Nov. 18, 2006
by Peter Goergen, Jr.
Student Assistant, UVa Athletics Media Relations
For the past three years, Marcus Hamilton has been the rock in the Virginia defensive backfield. While it would be easy to view Hamilton as strictly a football player, the senior cornerback sees himself as something more, a servant of God.
"As I've grown older, I've understood the importance in having a faith and having something that you believe so strongly about that it alters everything else in your life," Hamilton said. "No matter what you do on the football field, God is still going to love you the same."
The redshirt senior grew up a Baptist, and his faith took a leap forward during the summer between his eighth- and ninth-grade years in school.
"I went to church when I was younger with my family, but I went on a church retreat [during that summer] and that did a lot for me," Hamilton said. "That's where I grew a deal great in my faith."
Hamilton's faith has served him well since he stepped foot on the UVa Grounds. In 2002 as a true freshman, Hamilton was injured in the second game of the season against Florida State and decided to take a medical redshirt year.
"I understood that it was a part of God's plan," Hamilton said. "At that particular time, it wasn't my time to play. It wasn't my place to doubt what He had in place for me, so I just rehabbed, got better, learned the system and went from there."
After earning the Rock Weir Award as the most improved player in spring practice, Hamilton started the first six games of 2004 as a redshirt sophomore, but lost his starting job to true freshman Philip Brown after Virginia's 36-3 loss to Florida State. The turning point in Hamilton's career came just four games later against Georgia Tech, when he intercepted two Yellow Jacket passes in the endzone to lead Virginia to a 30-10 victory in Atlanta.
"It meant a lot to me, because I hadn't been playing," said Hamilton, who led the team with four interceptions in 2004. "For me to do that, it allowed me to continue believing in myself and my abilities. It was a big confidence boost, and it lifted me up."
Last season, Hamilton started every game and led all UVa defensive backs with 62 tackles. He also picked off six passes to lead all ACC players. His work on the field earned him second team All-ACC honors.
Perhaps more impressive than Hamilton's work on the field during his junior campaign was his success in the classroom. The 5-11, 198-pound corner was named to the ACC Academic Honor Roll for the third time.
"You come to school to get an education," Hamilton said. "If you're getting an education at a university like this, why not take full advantage of the opportunity that you have. Get the best grades you can and succeed in whatever you're doing. Succeed in the classroom, succeed on the field and succeed in life. It can start with getting a good education from this University."
"Getting on the ACC academic honor roll at a school like Virginia says something about you," freshman cornerback Vic Hall said. "It says you have a hard work ethic, and when it's football, it's football. When it's academics, it's academics. Whatever Marcus is doing in that moment, he's completely focused on, and that's the type of guy you want to be around."
This fall, Hamilton's teammates took note of the senior cornerback's work ethic and leadership abilities on the football field and in the classroom, and elected him as a team captain for the 2006 season.
"He was named captain of the team, and that says a lot about him in itself," senior receiver Fontel Mines said. "Just taking on that leadership role being a fifth-year senior, I think walking the walk is the right term to use for him. You can't ask for a better role model like that to be so talented on the field and off the field."
Outside his student and football responsibilities, Hamilton is also very active in the Charlottesville community. A member of Fellowship of Christian Athletes, he and his teammates make monthly visits to the UVA Children's Hospital. Hamilton also speaks at local high schools, emphasizing the importance of education.
"I feel as though everything that I do, the younger guys are going to be looking at it," Hamilton said. "I look at that as a way to model being the type of athlete, human being and student that the Virginia Cavaliers want to have, whether it is in the classroom, on the football field, walking around campus, whatever."
Unfortunately for Cavalier fans, the star cornerback moves on after this season. National Football League scouts project Hamilton, a sociology major who graduated last December after only three-and-a-half years at the University and is currently enrolled in graduate school, to be picked during the first day of the 2007 NFL Draft. Hamilton, however, takes nothing for granted and is already considering life beyond the NFL.
"If the Lord blesses me to be able to play in the NFL, then that's what I will do," Hamilton said. "But if not, or afterwards, I would like to get into broadcasting."
If all goes as planned and Hamilton enjoys a long and prosperous NFL career, the devout Christian hopes to give back to his community and to his God that have allowed his successes to take places.
"If He has given me the opportunity to play at the next level and have some money to do something like that [form an organization], I would pray to Him and ask Him what He wanted me to do," Hamilton said. "Whether it be a foundation or something else of the sort, whatever He led me to do, I would try to do that."
Until then, Hamilton will continue to give his best to the University of Virginia- on the field, in the classroom, and in the community.
1st and 10 With Marcus Hamilton
Most embarrassing song on my iPod:
1,000 Miles by Vanessa Carleton
Favorite class at UVa:
Most prized possession:
Favorite Place on the Corner:
The White Spot or Qdoba
Favorite Team to play on a video game:
The Baltimore Ravens in Madden
Best player ever in a sports video game:
Stephen Baker "The Touchdown Maker" in Techmo Super Bowl
The extreme activity to I would like to try:
My favorite website:
Favorite junk food:
The place I want to visit:
Nigeria or Kenya