From a defensive standpoint, Alabama football’s 2014 recruiting class will be vital in this year’s journey back to the College Football Playoff National Championship. Despite a few players being rotational guys, the Crimson Tide’s 2013 signing class played a significant role in assisting the program to a national title in 2015 – sealing a 45-40 win over Clemson at Glendale, Ariz.
Five-star prospects like Rashaan Evans, Da’Shawn Hand and Tony Brown deserve much attention, and four-star safety Hootie Jones continues to grow but the biggest part of Alabama’s front seven will be the play of senior inside linebacker, Shaun Dion Hamilton.
Once a four-star recruit, the Montgomery native enrolled as an instinctive player from Carver High School. After filling up the stats sheet in 2013, he saw action in 14 games as a reserve linebacker during his freshman season in 2014. He would turn in 27 tackles for his sophomore year in helping the Tide accomplish a national championship; however, Hamilton emerged as a voice on the front seven last season.
The 6-foot, 235-pounder had 64 tackles, including nine for loss and two sacks.
He recorded two interceptions, with one coming against Florida in the Southeastern Conference title game. An anterior crucial ligament tear in his knee caused Hamilton to miss the CFP, but he has returned healthy and appears to have not lost a step in his lateral quickness. According to former Tide backer Terrence Jones, he expects ‘big things’ from the senior in the coming season.
“He’s going to be a leader this season,” Jones said on Hamilton during his interview Wednesday on The Way It Is via Fox Sports Shoals. “It’s his year to be vocal and having players look up to him. I hated it when he got hurt against Florida, but I’m excited about what he’s going to do.”
Should Hamilton need any extra motivation, look no further than where he stands on the Coaches Preseason All-SEC Team for 2017. He is listed as a third-team selection, alongside teammate and senior cornerback Anthony Averett.
He did not play under Nick Saban, but Terrence Jones knows a thing or two about being a successful linebacker. He saw action under Mike Shula from 2003-06, and amassed 101 tackles –including a career-high 50 stops during his senior year in 2006. Jones was part of the 2005 Crimson Tide that obtained a 10-2 season, prior to the sanctions removing wins (textbooks).