June 26, 2019 | 82° F

Flood picks up five-star commit on eve of?NSD

The first player to commit to new head coach Kyle Flood is the Rutgers football recruiting class’s best. Consensus five-star recruit Darius Hamilton donned a Scarlet Knights hat last night on MSG Varsity’s “A Quick :60,” committing to Rutgers.

His verbal commitment becomes binding today, when he can sign his National Letter of Intent on National Signing Day. The Don Bosco Prep defensive lineman takes an already highly regarded recruiting class to another level.

“I just feel like in my heart, that’s where I want to be,” Hamilton told MSG Varsity’s Mike Quick. “It’s a great place. We have a great recruiting class this year. They’re going to do great things, and I want to be a part of it.”

Rivals.com ranks Hamilton as the 11th best recruit in the country. Scout.com ranks him 20th overall. Both agree he is the prized member of a 17-member class.

Hamilton called Florida and Miami (Fla.) his other finalists last night, but he also took an official visit to California.

He long considered Rutgers his favorite, but Greg Schiano’s surprising decision to leave for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers appeared to put that in jeopardy.

But Hamilton said he never questioned where he wanted to be.

“I think in my heart I knew where I wanted to be for a long time,” Hamilton said. “I took other visits and saw what was out there, but I knew where I wanted to be.”

So instead of committing to Schiano last night, he called Flood before making his television announcement, sharing the news with his new head coach.

He also spoke with defensive line coach Phil Galiano and defensive backs coach Jeff Hafley, who recruits Don Bosco for Rutgers.

“All of those guys are ecstatic,” Hamilton said. “They’re happy to have me and I’m happy to be there.”

Hamilton joins fellow Don Bosco Prep product Leonte Carroo and is one of three U.S. Army All-Americans in the recruiting class. Carroo, a four-star wide receiver, and four-star offensive lineman Chris Muller are the others.

The Scarlet Knights also have a pair of Semper Fi All-Americans committed in four-star offensive tackle J.J. Denman and four-star middle linebacker Quanzell Lambert.

But Hamilton is likely the most ready to make an immediate impact.

His 6-foot-4, 245-pound frame is already imposing, but his technique and ability to use his hands are his most impressive attributes. He learned them watching his father, Keith, play 12 seasons on the New York Giants’ defensive line.

“A lot of my friends call me ‘The Technician,’” Hamilton said.

Moments after Hamilton announced his destination, Quick announced Saddle Brook linebacker Steve Longa would remain committed to the Knights.

The three-star recruit wavered in his commitment, which he made in May, after Schiano’s departure, but will sign his Letter of Intent today with Rutgers.

Flood, Athletic Director Tim Pernetti and the rest of the staff managed to keep their class together — only St. Peter’s Prep tight end Michael Giacone de-committed — and more announcements tomorrow could go Rutgers’ way.

But the biggest came last night, and the reason was simple.

“I’m a Jersey guy,” Hamilton said.

By Steven Miller

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