The Redskins waited until the fifth round of this year’s NFL Draft to select a player from Alabama, which wouldn’t be much news had they not built a foundation (and a fifth of an NFL roster) with first-round former Alabama players.
Add the fact that the team acquired offseason prize safety Landon Collins, and the Redskins’ selection of center Ross Pierschbacher served as a sigh of relief. The universe was still in order.
For linebacker Shaun Dion Hamilton, another Alabama selection in last year’s draft, Pierschbacher’s selection offers him yet another Tuscaloosa-based reunion.
“Oh, Ross, man. We came in together from high school,” Hamilton said. “Really good player started four years at Alabama and not many guys can do that. He was All-American, All-SEC and all that so he’s going to be a great player for us...You never find guys to start for Nick Saban for four years, so he’s going to be a great player.”
Because of Alabama’s rigorous practice regimen, the rest of the Redskins’ Alabama defenders will have plenty of experience rushing and stunting against the big offensive lineman.
“With him playing guard, Coach Saban definitely believes in first string vs. first string,” Hamilton said. “So we were talking about it after he got drafted saying, ‘Well, I guess I’ll be going up against you, Payne, Jon Allen, and Reuben [Foster] again.”
Hamilton enters the 2019 offseason program refreshed and healthy, something he wasn’t afforded after his rookie season, which he finished on the injured list after breaking his kneecap in November of 2017.
As last season progressed, Hamilton became more comfortable and healthier, and he’ll look to build off of his success late in the season where he totaled 16 tackles and 1.5 sacks the final four games.
“I got a chance to play a bit more at the end of the season and there’s some things I still need to work on but I feel like I played pretty good,” Hamilton said. “Coming in as a rookie you don’t know anything and don’t know what to expect. But having teammates here definitely made the transition easy and I have a lot more confidence going into year two.”
Pierschbacher isn’t the only new Crimson Tide member on the team. Collins, who spent the last four years with the Giants, played briefly with Hamilton in Tuscaloosa, and the linebacker is excited to feel his presence behind him again this year.
“Landon, he’s always communicating,” Hamilton said. “I remember when I first got on to college, I just remember how vocal and passionate, he’s always talking and making sure everybody is energized out there on the field. I’m looking forward to playing with him.”
As for his advice to Pierschabcher and the rest of the rookie class?
“I would just tell them to come in ready to work,” Hamilton said. “The draft is great, but go ahead and put that beside you and be ready to start learning the playbook and be ready to be a national football player.”