PISCATAWAY, N.J. - Gary Nova still remembers the first time he saw Darius Hamilton walking down the halls of Don Bosco Prep. Hamilton had more the body of a man-child than the normal 14-year-old kid with his broad shoulders and long arms.
Fellow freshman and Don Bosco product, Leonte Carroo, joked how he was the big shot that couldn't do a push up.
On the field, they watched Hamilton mature into that oversized body and become the best player in the state.
Now at Rutgers, the 6-4, 260-pound Hamilton can do quite a few pushups, but he comes in with a weight of expectations that are even heavy for those monstrous shoulders as the state's top recruit.
"You talk about expectations, I've always had all that pressure and stuff," Hamilton said following Rutgers' first training camp practice. "Just from my dad [Keith] playing in the NFL, so every year there's people saying, 'You're not like your dad. You're never going to be like your dad,' or stuff like that. Obviously, being a five-star recruit, people are expecting you to come in here and do your thing."
Like wrecking havoc in the backfield -- although Hamilton will try to do so from a different spot in the line.
After playing defensive tackle at Don Bosco, Hamilton has moved to defensive end. However, the position switch doesn't lower outsiders' expectations.
But head coach Kyle Flood was sure to not set the bar too high one day into training camp.
"I think the most dangerous thing you can do to a young person and a freshman in your program, regardless of how highly touted they were or how talented they were, is put undue expectations [on them]," Flood said. "And certainly Darius comes here with a lot of fanfare and we're really excited about what he's going to do for our program, but I don't have a timeline on it."
Hamilton expects to see the field as a true freshman. And as time goes on, Flood anticipates that Hamilton will see playing time.
"Certainly as he earns his reps he's going to get them," Flood said. "And I do believe they'll be sooner than later."
First, Hamilton will have to get acclimated to playing defensive end instead of tackle, which is why learning to play the position is one of his biggest goals of the season. The West Paterson, N.J. native said he didn't feel lost despite the new position and having his first day of college practice. Fortunately for him, Rutgers' defensive scheme is similar to the one he ran at Don Bosco.
"All that five-star stuff goes out the window," Hamilton said. "Like I said, this is a whole other level. I was a five-star in high school -- this is college. This is a whole different ballgame. I'm looking forward to getting better every day, and just advancing in my position, getting to know these guys, and hopefully I can have the same success I had at the high-school level."