The McNeese State football team continued to stay hot on the recruiting trail for the 2021 recruiting class, as the Cowboys landed a commitment from Hahnville defensive back Alijah Hamilton on Saturday.
Hamilton chose McNeese over several programs. According to his 247Sports recruiting profile, he also had offers from Grambling State, Lamar and South Alabama.
On the day of his commitment, Hamilton did an online interview. In that video, which was released on Sunday, Hamilton explained his reasoning for committing to McNeese.
"The relationship I've built with coach Frank (Wilson) and just the whole staff, they've shown a lot of love," Hamilton said. "They make me feel like that's the perfect spot for me. They make me feel comfortable."
Part of Wilson's success in recruiting Hamilton stemmed from his time as an assistant coach at LSU. Hamilton said he remembered Wilson from his time in Baton Rouge and from there, he built a relationship with the rest of the coaching staff and "even the trainers."
"Talking to coach Frank is like a dream come true," Hamilton said.
The COVID-19 pandemic did affect Hamilton's recruitment, with his Hahnville team and all others throughout the state of Louisiana not allowed to conduct spring practices. That, combined with a recruiting dead period for the NCAA that started in March and will go through at least the end of August, prospects and coaches have not and will not be permitted to meet in person.
The dead period also meant that no official college camps could take place, eliminating the opportunity for players to get on campus and meet with a coaching staff and visit the team facilities.
But for Hamilton, patience and humility was the key throughout the process. Once he got one offer, the offers started trickling in.
"It was exciting," Hamilton said of receiving offers. "But I had to keep on working because I didn't want to let that distract me and get to my head. I just kept working so better things could come. But it was exciting to know that there's coaches out there that's interested in me."
Hamilton said playing time was another factor in his decision. He said the coaching staff will give him the opportunity to come in and compete to be a starter as a freshman in 2021. With the expected departures of senior cornerbacks Darion Dunn and Colby Burton to graduation, there certainly is a chance for Hamilton to play early.
"I'm ready," Hamilton said. "I just got to put in the work for it."
McNeese has two prospects who made their commitments public: Hamilton and Scotlandville Magnet defensive end Bryce Cage.
Hamilton could be the domino that gets the 2021 recruiting class to fall in line.
In the online interview, Hamilton named Holy Cross wide receiver Jalen Johnson and Destrehan defensive back Tyler Morton, who recently committed to McNeese's Southland Conference rival Nicholls State.
Hamilton ended the interview with kind words for McNeese and its coaching staff.
"It's a good spot led by good people," Hamilton said. "Frank Wilson, he's a good man, he's good people. That's just a good spot to build something."