Well, the word got around
They said, this kid is insane, man
Get your education
Don’t forget from
Whence you came, and
The world is gonna know your name.
— “Hamilton: An American Musical”
SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Kyle Hamilton smiles at the reference.
He’s just a football player, after all, not a patriot or a shaper of democracy. Yet, Notre Dame’s junior safety, a preseason All-American and freshly minted team captain, has grand designs for this season and beyond.
So, with apologies to Lin-Manuel Miranda, a little talk here about the seventh-highest grossing Broadway musical since they started keeping track of such things in 1984.
“I know a few of the songs,” this modern-day Hamilton recently said. “I was supposed to go up to New York with my mom and my brother to see it on Broadway, but COVID happened.”
Hamilton made it through the mind-bending challenge of the 2020 season, leading the team in tackles and generally shutting down his deep half of the field as Notre Dame reached the College Football Playoff for the second time in three seasons.
Now the hype around Hamilton, projected as a potential top-five pick in next spring’s NFL Draft, is roaring again. He and his family discussed how to handle all of it — including name, image and likeness opportunities — and the decision was made to frontload the bulk of such activities.
In-season, he said, he’ll craft a schedule for Instagram posts and the like.
“Little stuff like that won’t take much effort,” he said.
Still, his face could launch a thousand memes, some of which may include his No. 14 superimposed on a stock photo from a certain hit musical.
“I’ve definitely seen some people tag me in some social-media stuff,” Hamilton said. “That’s all fun and everything, but nobody’s really attached me to it on the team. I’m not sure how popular a musical is throughout the team.”
Maybe if Hamilton’s gold-helmeted teammates knew Miranda’s creation had grossed an estimated $613 million on Broadway alone since its 2015 debut, they might commit a few of those rap lyrics to memory.
“I probably do need to watch it,” Hamilton said. “I’ve seen clips. I’ll get to it at some point in my life. Maybe I’m related to him or something like that.”
Got a lot farther by working a lot harder
By being a lot smarter
By being a self starter
Irish coach Brian Kelly has a favorite one-word description of his star safety.
“He’s an eraser,” Kelly said. “Kyle Hamilton is an eraser.”
The long-limbed chess piece at the back of Notre Dame’s defense can wipe out the most talented individual opponent, not to mention otherwise costly mistakes by his teammates.
“It’s very difficult to get Michael Mayer the football when we go against him,” Kelly said, referencing his equally freakish tight end. “When you have that kind of player that can take Michael Mayer away, imagine what he can do with others?”
And here’s the scary part: Fully recovered from offseason ankle surgery, Hamilton, who turned 20 in March, is seemingly getting better by the day.
“You don’t get many players of that caliber,” Kelly said. “He’s so much more aware of where he is in the big picture now than he was last year. This is a big year for him, and he knows that.”
Will they know what you overcame?
Will they know you rewrote the game?
The world will never be the same
Just imagine Notre Dame using Hamilton’s 6-4 frame on offense. It’s been a running theme between him and offensive coordinator Tommy Rees.
“I definitely miss it,” Hamilton said. “Scoring is a cool feeling.”
He scored seemingly at will in high school at Marist School in suburban Atlanta, so it’s no wonder Irish fans light up the comment sections anytime the possibility is raised.
“It’s a funny thing to joke around about,” Hamilton said. “Me and coach Rees always have a little back and forth about it. My plate is pretty full on defense already as is. . . . I won’t rule it out completely, [but] I’m not sure it’s going to happen.”
Oh, there’s a million things this Hamilton still hasn’t done, but just you wait.