DaeSean Hamilton thought long and hard as his parents' car rolled over the pavement from Pennsylvania into Maryland, and then finally into the small town of Stafford he calls home in Virginia.
He thought about the convincing words of Penn State head coach Bill O'Brien, as well as the knowledge and tips he gained from Penn State wide-receiver Allen Robinson about being an athlete and a student. And he remembered the bond he built quickly with already committed Class of 2013 Nittany Lions, and decided that he, too, wanted to be one.
It wasn't how he planned it, though. No, the 6-0, 180-pound wide receiver from Mountain View High thought his official visit would just be a run of the mill trip. He held the thought Friday night, after he experienced dinner and some meetings with Penn State coaches. Alas, it was Saturday that saw Hamilton experience something he hadn't at any other school he had visited, and it was Sunday night that he made the call to O'Brien to become the 17th commitment to the Class of 2013.
“I went up there expecting just a regular visit; nothing spectacular,” Hamilton said Thursday, well after the visit had sunk in. “We went to dinner Friday, and I was still thinking that. But then Saturday, we went through the whole scheme and met with the coaches, and that's when I really started to think about it.”
The wheels started turning in Hamilton's mind as he sat and talked with Robinson, a sophomore who won Receiver of the Year honors in the Big Ten. This conversation wasn't about that, though. Rather, they talked about the present, and what Hamilton's life could be like in the very near future.
“Allen Robinson was a key factor. I really connected with him on my visit since he was my host,” Hamilton said. “He came in there as a freshman and didn't' play much, but then had a great sophomore season.
“We didn't really talk about that, though. He told me about the atmosphere at the school and on game day, and told me all about the Penn State people and how it's a football town. He and his friends really showed me a good time.”
There's that atmosphere term again. Hamilton wouldn't be the first to say the atmosphere at University Park and Beaver Stadium was enough to draw him toward Penn State, but he chose something more sentimental then that.
“I think Coach O'Brien was one of the key factors, too,” Hamilton said. “Not many head coaches are like him. I don't mean any disrespect to any of the other schools that recruited me or their head coaches, but Coach O'Brien is just different.
“The way he reached out to me and my family, and the way he addressed the message of them needing me, I just wanted to play there,” he added. “He told me how they started slow last season but finished 8-4, and that they're just looking ahead to football and none of the other stuff.”
There's no clear plan for Hamilton's initial year on campus. He may redshirt, he may play right away. He's well aware of what he can provide, though.
“I want people to think of me as a complete receiver,” Hamilton said. “Not necessarily a speedster or someone that will just get the deep ball or be reliable on third down. I want to be all of those. The coaches told me that I could be a guy that fills in wherever they need, and that I may redshirt or may play right away. It all depends on how I perform and develop on a daily basis.”
But a great player is not often without a great coach, and the FOX Sports NEXT three-star prospect believes the Nittany Lions have one.
“My main recruiter is Coach [Charles] London, but he sent Coach [Stan] Hixon down so we could get a relationship since he's the wide receiver coach,” Hamilton said. “He's just a different recruiter. He's not like normal recruiting coaches, he's laid back and more of an older guy, and he's not a person to push you or try to sell you on things. He had a normal conversation with me and told me what I need work on, and I appreciated that.”
So a commitment he made, ending his recruiting process for good. Virginia Tech, Miami, Wake Forest and Duke were all considered by Hamilton, but after his one trip to University Park, he decided he needed no more.
“I've been a few of those places multiple times, but I didn't think I could get anything more out of taking official visits to Virginia Tech or Duke,” Hamilton said. “My parents were behind me and happy about my decision, and that always makes things easier.”