With the Redskins taking off for training camp later this month, Redskins.com will take a deeper look at the new faces of the organization and what we’ve learned regarding their football and life background.
Today the focus is shifted towards rookie linebacker Shaun Dion Hamilton.
1. He was a permanent team captain as a senior.
Even though Hamilton did not finish his college senior campaign on the field following a season-ending injury, his teammates felt he was impactful off the field. His Alabama teammates voted him as a permanent team captain during his final year in a Crimson Tide uniform.
Hamilton recorded 40 tackles (5.5 for loss) with 2.5 sacks and two pass breakups in nine games before a knee injury that sidelined him for the rest of the season. His leadership was inspirational to his teammates, who went out and won another National Championship.
Senior Vice President of Player Personnel Doug Williams has always like by players who can handle business like professionals in college while motivating others, which was a major factor in the Redskins selecting Hamilton in the sixth round of the 2018 NFL Draft.
“All those guys, you think about you’ve got to really go into the room and listen to the interview and listen to these guys on the board when you put them on the board and you talk about certain things: the defense, how well they prepare,” Williams said. “And this game in the National Football League is more of a mental game sometimes than it is a physical game. It’s being in the right place at the right time, and these guys know how to do it.”
2. He was his high school’s class valedictorian.
Not only did Hamilton succeed on the football field in high school and college, he excelled in the classroom as well. As a high school senior, the Carver (Ala.) High School product was named class valedictorian in addition to given the Jimmy Hitchcock Award for high school seniors in Montgomery County who represent the area academically and demonstrate leadership.
Before becoming a member of the Redskins, Hamilton graduated from the University of Alabama with a degree in business management.
3. He comes from a military family.
Hamilton’s discipline on the field came from a military upbringing. His father, Lt. Col. Shelton Hamilton, served more than 20 years in the U.S. Army Reserve and spent two tours in Afghanistan.
According to Al.com, Hamilton and his brother would wake up and watch their father work out at 5:30 a.m and would eventually join him in workouts as they got older. The discipline was also in effect in the classroom, with their parents did not accepting anything less than a "B" in school.
4. He was a part of two National Championship teams.
In his four-year career with Alabama, Hamilton contributed to two National Championship-winning squads. As a sophomore in 2015, the six-foot linebacker played in every game in a title run and recorded 27 tackles with five starts.
Hamilton recorded 40 tackles, tied for second-most on the team, and was named to the Butkus Award Preseason Watch List before a season-ending injury sidelined him for the remainder of his senior year. Despite not being on the field for the final few games last season, his leadership was a major influence in the locker room.
There is no doubt in Redskins head coach Jay Gruden’s mind that Hamilton’s influence to the Crimson Tide’s winning culture will translate to the NFL level.
“Obviously with Shaun Dion Hamilton, I think watching him alongside Reuben Foster last year, watching the impact that he had on that defense, the way he communicated it, talking to the coaches and the players that played with him, how smart he is, how he anticipates things, it’s a great add for us,” Gruden said.
5. He's bouncing back from injury.
Hamilton has dealt with the adversity of coming back from injuries throughout his college career. Alabama’s third-leading tackler in 2016 went down with a knee injury during the SEC Championship game during his junior season, finishing the season with 64 tackles.
Eventually making a recovery to return to for his senior season, he came up with 29 stops against the run during a nine-game stretch. Another injury struck again in a game against LSU, limiting him to action at the NFL combine.
According to Hamilton, he will be ready for full contact drills once training camp begins later this month.
“My knee is doing really good. I'm cleared to do all football activities,” Hamilton said. “I'm just continuing to rehab and things like that. I'm about 85-90 percent right now, so I'm going to be full speed by the time of training camp.”
6. He's originally from Alabama.
Coming from Montgomery, Ala., Hamilton grew up surrounding himself around the “Roll Tide” mantra. Playing his high school football approximately 100 miles from Tuscaloosa, the 205th-overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft recorded 119 tackles during his senior season at Carver and was selected to play in the 2013 Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Game.
Hamilton turned himself into an elite college football prospect, with ESPN listing him as the sixth-best inside linebacker nationally while rating him 102nd overall in the ESPN300. He finished his high school career with an invitation to the 2014 U.S. Army All-American Bowl and pursuing college football at Alabama, receiving other offers from Auburn, Southern California, Tennessee and Arizona State as well.
7. He has college teammates surrounding him.
Having some familiar faces surrounding him, Hamilton has had no problems building chemistry on the Redskins. Hamilton is reunited with former Alabama teammates Jonathan Allen, Ryan Anderson and Daron Payne.
The four players were together during the Crimson Tide’s 2015 National Championship run, where he had the opportunity to be in the same linebackers room as Anderson. With his rookie season underway, he has continued to soak up as much information about the NFL game from the second-year linebacker and the rest of his college teammates as possible.
With the opportunity to build from the chemistry they had in college, Hamilton is eager for the chance to show how the defensive bond off the field can translate on the field.
“It's a really, really, really good feeling,” Hamilton said. “Ryan Anderson actually texted me [on Draft day] saying, 'Be on the lookout,' then Friday he texted me also and told me, '[We're] coming to get you, man.' I had all kinds of thoughts, you know, I was thinking I wasn't going to get drafted and I was thinking, ‘What better place than the Redskins?’
“I have the Redskins circle actually now since Daron Payne went there and I have teammates there. I was actually talking to Ryan [that day] about how we could really bring out the best in each other because all of us have played on the same defense before and we would be able to push each other and things like that so I'm just excited to be a Redskin.”