Tyler Hamilton doesn’t know who Purdue’s next football coach will be. Nobody really does, though the uncertainty could end as soon as next week.
No matter. The Hilton Head Island wideout is going to play in the Big Ten.
Hamilton notified Purdue coaches of his commitment Tuesday, with plans to graduate next month and enroll at the Indiana school for the spring semester. By then he should know who his coach is going to be.
“Just glad I get to play Division 1 football,” Hamilton said via text message on Wednesday.
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There apparently was little chance of missing on that front. Hamilton’s other offers reportedly included Clemson, Missouri, Tennessee, West Virginia and Texas. He came into this season as the area’s highest-rated recruit, given four stars by ESPN and three by Rivals.com, Scout.com and 247Sports.
ESPN ranks him 30th among multipositional “athletes” in this year’s class. As such, he goes straight to the top of Purdue’s list of commitments.
“Purdue has done an amazing job of recruiting that kid from Day 1,” said Seahawks coach B.J. Payne, who is close friends with Purdue linebackers coach Marcus Freeman. “At the end of the day, it’s the Big Ten. It’s a phenomenal education.
“You’ve got to make that decision based upon where you want to go to school. What is the university you want to get your degree from? You can’t really pick a school these days only (based) on the coach.”
As an example, one only has to look as far as the Seahawks’ last four-star recruit, Texas defensive lineman Poona Ford. Once a Louisville commitment, Ford opted to follow coach Charlie Strong to the Longhorns on signing day.
Now reports indicate Strong will be dismissed after this weekend’s game against TCU, and Ford almost certainly will play his senior season under a new coach.
Purdue (3-8) dismissed coach Darrell Hazell midway through the season, with Gerad Parker serving as interim coach for the past six weeks. His tenure will end after Saturday’s rivalry finale against Indiana.
Speculation has swirled around Les Miles – himself fired this year by LSU but with a 2007 national title on his résumé – along with Western Michigan’s P.J. Fleck, who has the Broncos at 11-0 and in the driver’s seat for a “New Year’s Six” major bowl.
“Whoever comes in there, (Hamilton is) a four-star recruit,” Payne said. “I don’t think anybody who takes the job at Purdue would mind.”
Hamilton is Hilton Head Island’s all-time touchdowns leader, tallying 45 over the past four seasons. He found the end zone 22 times as a junior, with 15 rushing TDs, six on receptions and one via kick return.
This season, he ran for 634 yards and five touchdowns, caught 32 passes for 610 yards and five TDs and added two more scores on kick returns. That included a 90-yard return for a TD against Stall on the opening kickoff as the Seahawks’ season resumed following Hurricane Matthew.
Purdue loses its top four receivers after this season, with none of the remaining group entering Saturday’s game with more than 16 catches.
Hamilton figures to further enhance his chances with early enrollment, allowing him to get in the weight room and go through spring drills. That will put him on the same level as everyone else adjusting to the Boilermakers’ new coach.
“Better chance for me to get stronger and work on my skills, on the field and (in the) classroom,” Hamilton said.