Ft. Lauderdale (Fla.) St. Thomas Aquinas junior defensive end Jelani Hamilton said that Friday's victory over Tampa (Fla.) Plant, 29-7, in the Class 5A State Championship was a goal that he and his teammates were focused on for the entire last year. After Bradenton (Fla.) Manatee ended the Raiders season in the semifinals in 2009, the squad regrouped and turned their focus to hoisting the trophy in 2010.
"Last year we took Manatee for granted in the state semifinals, so this year we came out hungry, we came out determined and remembered that sick feeling in our stomachs from when we lost," Hamilton said. "So we just worked hard from day one of the season, we worked our tails off, to come here and win it."
At this point, the 6-foot-5, 255-pound defensive lineman is hearing from a few schools.
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"Miami, FSU, and Florida," Hamilton said. "I went to a Miami camp my sophomore and junior years."
One in-state school is showing more interest in Hamilton than the others at this point.
"Florida," Hamilton said. "They send me more letters than anybody. They write me hand-written letters sometimes, that means a lot to me, that you would take the time to write a letter to me."
While the Sunshine State has given Hamilton a lot of early attention, it is an out-of-state school that he would love to hear from.
"Texas," Hamilton said. "Just the way they look, the way they play physically."
In addition to Texas, Hamilton said he is a big fan of North Carolina alum Julius Peppers and his style of play.
With his junior season now concluded on the field, Hamilton is turning his attention to some visits throughout the spring and summer to help him sort out his recruitment.
"I am going to do a lot this offseason," Hamilton said. "I am going to take a visit to North Carolina, Florida, Tennessee, and FSU."
In the state championship game, Hamilton had a tackle, a sack for 11 yards, a tackle-for-loss of 11 yards, and a quarterback hurry.