Timmy Hamilton went on a recruiting trip to Coffeyville Community College three years ago and felt, to put it lightly, overwhelmed.
“I was just looking around and thinking ‘How in the world can I ever compete with these guys?’” Hamilton said. “But then I went through it, and now I’m a different guy, a different player.”
How different? The 6-foot-5, 265-pound defensive end/outside linebacker and Kapaun Mount Carmel product turned himself into one of the top junior-college prospects in the nation over the last two seasons with the Red Ravens. He signed with Arizona in February and was in Tucson on Friday night to take in the Wildcats’ spring game.
“Playing in the Jayhawk (Conference), the high level of competition changed a lot of my thinking,” Hamilton said. “I look at offensive linemen that are 6-foot-5, 330 pounds or the specialty guys with the speed and I can think of guys I’ve competed against the last couple of years that are that good, or maybe better.”
Hamilton is living in Wichita this semester and completing his final two classes for his Associate’s Degree at Coffeyville online as he trains with longtime mentor Brian Butler six days per week. He reports to Arizona on June 7.
He’s unhappy that he isn’t at Arizona now. “It’s my fault, because I dropped two classes my freshman year, and those are the two that I’m taking right now. I’m ready to get out (to Arizona).”
An honorable mention All-Jayhawk pick this season, he helped lead Coffeyville to a 9-3 record, its first win over Butler since 1997 and a rare bowl berth, falling to undefeated Trinity Valley in the Heart of Texas Bowl.
“When he first got here, in June after he graduated from high school, he came in and outworked everybody,” Coffeyville coach Aaron Flores said. “Something clicked for him … any drill, any workout he was trying to win them all. He always had a purpose.
“His sophomore year, we changed the system and got him doing some different things on defense, where he could put his hand down and rush and also stand up at times and play … we moved him around and had a lot of success that way.”
After high school, Hamilton approached Butler and asked him what he needed to do to become a Division I player. Butler gave him some advice, then referred him to Wichita native and Baltimore Ravens linebacker Arthur Brown.
Their messages were the same: Hard work.
“His mindset after that was different, he started to become a lot more confident and that came from the work he was putting in,” Butler said. “The hard work gave him confidence. There was a picture we took while he was training with Arthur last week where you couldn’t really tell them apart and I told him ‘Who in the world would’ve ever thought that I would confuse Tim Hamilton and Arthur Brown?’
“He’s not perfect, but he’s consistent and committed and that will take you a long way.”
Arizona got in on Hamilton’s recruitment early, and coach Rich Rodriguez made a big impression on Hamilton’s parents right away. Especially his mother, Twanda.
“She fell in love with (Rodriguez) right off,” Hamilton said. “My dad, he was in the military, so he doesn’t mince words … but after they offered me a scholarship, he said ‘You should take it,’ which carried some weight.”
Arizona’s biggest weakness on defense last year was up front, where Hamilton should have a chance at breaking into the rotation immediately.
“After the spring game, (Rodriguez) told me I’d done my time at a junior-college and now it was time to come to paradise,” Hamilton said. “So I’m ready to get out (to Tucson) in June, I’m ready to compete right away.”