ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – DaeSean Hamilton finds himself in a different position this week: worrying about himself.
The Penn State wide receiver has never really done that. All his life, he’s been taking care of others. As a team captain for the Nittany Lions he was focused on making his teammates better. Away from football, however, is where Hamilton’s true character shines through.
For nearly his entire life, he’s been a caregiver for his older brother, Darius, who has autism and is unable to communicate verbally. With his NFL dream now so close, Hamilton hopes his week with the East team at the Shrine Game gets him closer to being able to provide even more support for Darius.
“My family, and especially him being able to watch me from when I was a kid all the way up to this point now, has really been a blessing in itself,” he said Wednesday after practice at Shorecrest Preparatory School. “I’m just making sure that I'm making them proud at all times. He's who I do it for, my family is who I do it for, and that's been my driving motivation.”
Hamilton is Penn State’s all-time leader in receptions with 204. He’s thought of as a good route runner who plays with a physical edge.
“There's still a lot more to do,” he said Wednesday. “My family has always taught me a "never satisfied" mentality, but so far, I believe everything has been going well. I try not to think about (how close the NFL is) because I don't want to get relaxed. I realize what situation I'm in and I'm trying to make the most of it.”
That has meant taking some time for himself to train for the next level.
“You're going from team everything to now you've got to build your own personal brand,” he said. “It is kind of weird just solely focusing on myself at the moment. I can take a step back and see all the things I need to work on.”
Character is most definitely not one of those things.
Any scout-player meeting here shouldn’t be taken for more than what it is, but with that qualifier out of the way, Bills scouts were seen talking with Tennessee tight end Ethan Wolf, Pitt cornerback Avonte Maddox and South Florida defensive tackle Deadrin Senat after the East practice.
Wolf has the size NFL teams are looking for at 6-foot-6 and 245 pounds, but his senior season was a disappointment by his own admission. Named to the Mackey Award Preseason Watch List before the year, he finished with just 24 catches for 246 yards and three touchdowns.
“It was a disappointing way to end,” he said Wednesday. “I wanted to be a little more involved in the offense. I really focused on trying to become a more reliable blocker and I think I took steps in that regard. I definitely didn't hurt myself.”
Wolf was the subject of a brutal, anonymous scouting report before the season, in which he was called “pretty damn soft.”
“I tried not to think about that. I didn't want to distract myself,” he said. “I just wanted to do what the coaches said and what they wanted from me. I wanted to win games. I'm sure what the coaches told me and what the scouts wanted was similar. I tried not to get too involved with reading those things.”
West coach Bobby Johnson kept things light at the end of the first two practices of the week. On Monday, he had quarterback-turned-linebacker Joel Lanning of Iowa State run one play. If the offense scored, the defense had to do 10 pushups. Lanning’s pass was incomplete, though, meaning the offense – and Johnson – did them.
On Tuesday, Johnson had position players take their turn at trying to kick a field goal, leading to some laughs when some attempts were particularly ugly.
Wednesday, however, there were no shenanigans, as the temperature plummeted into the low 50s and a biting wind made it feel much colder (by Florida standards). That led to many scouts and/or front-office members leaving practice early.
Story topics: Shrine game