BELTON — If Mary Hardin-Baylor players have questions about almost any offensive scheme, senior wide receiver Jamaal Hamilton probably knows the answers.
He was a starter as a freshman at West Texas A&M, saw just as much playing time as a sophomore after the Buffaloes changed offenses, learned another new scheme as a walk-on at Houston before the pandemic hit, was part of the Crusaders’ national championship run last year with then-offensive coordinator Stephen Lee’s scheme and is producing again this season for coordinator Andy Padron’s offense.
Add it all up, and that’s five playbooks he’s had to master just in his college career alone.
“I’m good at learning new offenses because I’ve done it so many times,” he said. “I bring a notebook into film every day and write everything down, and then I take that notebook home and study it. I probably should use those habits with my homework.”
It’s tough to argue with his methods. After making five catches for 99 yards and a score last year, the 5-foot-10, 190-pound Duncanville product already has 24 receptions for 323 yards and three touchdowns this season heading into today’s regular-season finale between No. 3 UMHB (8-1, 7-0 American Southwest Conference) and McMurry (1-8, 1-6) on Fredenburg Field at Crusader Stadium.
Despite having immediate success at West Texas A&M, the Buffaloes’ coaching changes and run-heavy offenses sent Hamilton in search of a place where he could showcase his talent.
That led him to Houston, where he had a spot as a walk-on until the NCAA granted all athletes an extra year of eligibility because of the pandemic, leaving the Cougars with no room for any more receivers.
“I really took a chance on myself by walking on at Houston. It was just bad timing to go there,” he said. “UMHB recruited me out of high school, but I had bigger offers at the time. When I decided to leave Houston, I was changing schools for the third time. I thought, ‘If I’m going to do this, I want to play for one of the best teams in the country.’”
After joining the Crusaders prior to last season, what caught Hamilton by surprise was the talent pool.
“It’s way tougher than I expected to get playing time here. After starting at a (Division II school) my freshman year, I figured playing time here would easily come,” he said. “This is definitely the deepest receivers corps that I’ve been a part of.”
With everything that comes with being part of three college football programs, Hamilton has learned to adjust quickly, keep working and let his play speak for itself.
And looking back on it all, he has no regrets about how his career has turned out.
“I probably wouldn’t change anything because anything that helped land me here in 2021 to win a national championship, I’m thankful for that,” he said. “It’s been a blessing being here. West Texas A&M and Houston didn’t win a national championship last year. Everybody in the country works for it, but not everybody gets to say they’re a national champion.”