27 - Justin Hamilton Position: Free Safety
Class: r-Senior
Height: 6' 3"
Weight: 222 lbs.
High School: Clintwood
Hometown: Clintwood, Va.
photo A true team player who is working at his third position in five years ... Moved to free safety in the spring after contributing as a tailback and as a receiver ... Missed most of the spring with right peroneal tendon injury in his ankle ... Is expected to be back running the first of July and be ready for preseason practice ... Has a lot of catching up to do at the new position, but has the smarts and football savvy to get the job done ... Earned Super Iron Hokie honors in the weight room prior to his injury ... Is expected to be one of the Hokies' top senior leaders ...

A Talk With...
What helps you be such a versatile player on this team?
I think I am a good athlete, but I am willing to make changes because of my ability, to help the team.

Is being this versatile something you learned in high school, being able to be flexible?
I didn't have to move around nearly as much in high school, but I would from time to time switch around just on different plays, not for a season. High school allows you to be flexible with better players so you can get the ball in their hands more often, but in college it's usually a switch for depth or injury reasons.

The sacrifices you have made throughout the years have always benefited the team in some way. Where did that mentality come from?
My parents always talked about focusing on the bigger picture. I like playing running back and being on the offensive side of the ball, but if I did that, never played and it hurt the team it would not make me happy. I want us to succeed and play for ACC championships and if I can help by playing defense then so be it.

Being a senior, you are looked upon along with Jimmy Williams to be leaders on the defensive side of the ball. How have you tried to step into that role this year on defense?
I have tried just to be there for some of the younger players trying to find there way as far as making meetings and going to class. Jimmy and [Darryl] Tapp are the leaders. I am just trying to feel my way still and learn the position. I hope I can be more of a leader come fall when I am more comfortable playing safety.

What are some life lessons you think you will take from playing football at Virginia Tech?
Some life lessons I have learned could be that self-sacrifice can sometimes be its own reward. I haven't got as much playing time as I would have liked, but I think I am a better person for the work I have done. I think other players - younger players - have also seen me. And other players like me move positions without complaining and it has helped the team. No one is worried about time. They want to win games and are willing to work to that goal instead.

How is practice different on the defensive side of the ball?
The back-pedaling was tough at first and breaking on the ball instead of running to it has been interesting. The drills are working different muscles than what I used to do. We always emphasized footwork and foot speed on offense but it comes into play a lot more when you are reacting to the ball.

What is the difference between Coach Hite and Coach Ward?
They both have a tough, teacher side and a soft, humorous side. They are pretty close, but they approach you with two different senses of humor and tow different ways of being critical of your performance. Hite can be a bit more softer spoken, whereas coach Ward will yell at you from across the field.

Is there anything you wish you could have accomplished on the offensive side of the ball that you didn't?
I still want to score a couple more touchdowns, but I think if I work hard that can be accomplished from where I am playing now as well.
2004: Played in all 13 games, rushing 75 times for 336 yards and three touchdowns ... Also caught six passes for 31 yards ... Played 33 snaps against USC, rushing the ball eight times for 33 yards ... Scored his first touchdown of the season against WMU, a 1-yard plunge ... Finished the game with 41 yards on 12 carries ... Rushed 13 times for 64 yards and one TD against Duke ... Rushed for 48 yards and a touchdown in the win over Maryland ... Missed most of the spring with an ankle injury that required surgery ... Set a new position record in both the vertical jump (37 1/2) and power clean (295) ... Had a 340-pound bench, a 470-pound squat and a 304-pound push jerk ...

2003: Played in all 13 games, starting six ... Finished second on the team in receptions with 23 ... Had 282 yards receiving and a touchdown ... Opened the season with four receptions for 55 yards and a touchdown against UCF ... Made the start against Texas A&M, but didn't catch any passes in the rainy weather ... Was in briefly against UConn before sustaining a sprained ankle ... Came back to play against Rutgers, catching three passes for 28 yards ... Had three catches for 28 yards at Virginia ... Posted a personal-best 475-pound back squat on the way to Super Iron Hokie honors during spring max testing ... Contributed a 6-yard touchdown run during the Maroon-White game ...

2002: Saw limited action on offense ... Also played on both the field goal and punt block teams ... Led the team with two punt blocks ... Also caught five passes for 56 yards ... Caught his first collegiate pass against Arkansas State, a 5-yard reception ... Also played 11 snaps on special teams ... Blocked a punt against LSU that resulted in a Tech touchdown ... Missed the Syracuse game with a sprained left ankle ... Blocked his second punt of the year against Virginia, which was picked up and returned for a touchdown ... Earned Super Iron Hokie honors during the off-season ... His 340-pound bench press tied for tops among the receivers ... Added a 450-pound back squat and ran a 4.46 forty ... Worked at flanker and split end during the spring ... Missed some practice time due to an ankle injury ...

2001: Worked at tailback and receiver while redshirting ... Bench pressed 330 pounds and ran a 4.53 forty during spring testing ... Moved to flanker during the early stages of spring practice ... Had four catches for 44 yards in the Maroon-White game ... Won the Paul Torgersen Award as Tech's top offensive newcomer ...

High School: Rushed for over 4,000 yards and scored 62 touchdowns for Coach Bob Meade during his prep career at Clintwood ... Had 1,153 yards rushing and 19 TDs as a senior, but won first-team Group A all-state honors for his play as a defensive back ... A SuperPrep All-American, he was ranked the No. 24 running back in the nation and the No. 6 player in Virginia ... Named PrepStar A-A and listed as the No. 3 RB in the Atlantic Region and the No. 26 overall prospect in the region ... Listed the No. 4 player in Virginia by The Roanoke Times ... Gained 1,550 yards and tallied 20 TDs in 1999 on the way to first-team all-state honors as a running back ... Was named the district player of the year and earned all-district and all-region honors on both offense and defense ... Added over 800 yards and 19 touchdowns his sophomore season ... A two-time all-state pick in basketball ... Averaged 21 points and 13 rebounds as a senior and 24 points and 12 boards his junior season ... Also excelled in track, winning the state title in both the 110- and 300-meter hurdles his junior year ...

Personal: Justin Lee Hamilton ... Born 9/17/82 in Norton, VA ... Son of Beth Stanley ... Majoring in apparel, housing, resource management.

Rushing G No. Yds. Avg. TD LG
2004 13 75 336 4.5 3 24

Receiving G No. Yds. Avg. TD LG
2002 13 5 56 11.2 0 23
2003 13 23 282 12.3 1 29
2004 13 6 31 5.2 0 11
Career 39 34 369 10.9 1 29

Tackles G UT AT Tot. Loss Sacks
2003 13 1 0 1 0-0 0-0
2004 13 4 1 5 0-0 0-0
2005 13 15 20 35 2.5-7 0-0
Career 39 20 21 41 2.5-7 0-0

Interceptions G No. Yds. Avg. TD LG
2005 13 3 60 20.0 0 46

K.O. Ret. G No. Yds. Avg. TD LG
2003 13 1 8 8.0 0 8