Pick up the dictionary and search for the term “sack,” and you will see the following definition: “to tackle the quarterback behind the line of scrimmage in football.”
However, to Prairie View A&M defensive end Adrian Hamilton, there’s much more associated with the term.
When asked to describe the feeling of sacking an opposing quarterback, the 23-year-old senior from Dallas glows.
“You work so hard to get to the finish line, so once you get there, you release all of your power and aggression at one point on the quarterback,” Hamilton said. “Man, to hear the crowd go wild and see the opposing players’ heads go down is a good feeling.”
Hamilton has a lot to be happy about. He currently leads all Football Championship Subdivision defenders with 10 sacks this season, and his Panthers are sitting atop the Southwestern Athletic Conference’s Western Division at 3-2 (3-1). His success so far has landed him on the Buck Buchanan Watch List.
His journey to collegiate success has mirrored his path to the quarterback - with many obstacles to be overcome before success can be found.
Rated as a three-star recruit by Rivals.com from Carter High in Dallas, Hamilton signed to play for Oklahoma State in 2006. But Hamilton was never certified by the NCAA’s initial eligibility clearinghouse and never played for the Cowboys, according to a Sept. 2007 article in the Lubbock (Texas) Avalanche-Journal.
Hamilton then ventured to Lubbock, where he walked on to Texas Tech.
But after totaling four tackles in six games in 2007, Hamilton was dismissed from the Tech program in August 2008 after violating team rules, according to the Avalanche-Journal, quoting then-coach Mike Leach.
Hamilton’s third stop was at Dallas Community College, where he concentrated on academics to make sure he was on track not only to graduate but remain eligible for football.
After all was said and done, Hamilton finally had a place he could call home when he signed with Prairie View last season. For a guy who was once on a top FBS football program, Hamilton said he was humbled after leaving Texas Tech.
“It was tough,” said Hamilton, who played in high school and at Texas Tech with star receiver Michael Crabtree. “I saw all my teammates going on getting drafted, getting married and having kids.”
Back on the football field for the first time since 2007, Hamilton played a reserve role in 2010. He had 27 tackles, including five sacks among eight tackles for loss.
But it’s what the 6-foot-3 255-pound defensive end is doing this season that has him on pace for a potential historical milestone.
Consider this: It took Hamilton just five games this season to surpass his production from an entire year ago. Heading into Saturday’s game against Southern at A.W. Mumford Stadium, Hamilton has 42 tackles, including the 10 sacks among his 11 tackles for loss.
Even further: In back-to-back games against Arkansas-Pine Bluff in Week 3 and Mississippi Valley State in Week 4, Hamilton totaled 19 tackles - and get ready - nine sacks.
Need more? In last week’s 31-23 win over Grambling, Hamilton added another 10 tackles, one sack and one forced fumble - leading him to be named the Southwestern Athletic Conference defensive player of the week.
“He is just a relentless ballplayer,” Prairie View coach Heishma Northern said. “He plays hard. He plays with passion. He plays with speed. He plays with aggression. He arrives at the football in a bad mood in a lot of instances.”
While Prairie View nurtures a half-game lead over both UAPB and Southern, Hamilton said the ultimate team goal is to bring another SWAC championship to Texas.
But Hamilton cited a more personal goal.
In 2002 while playing for Alabama A&M, current Indianapolis Colts defensive end Robert Mathis etched his name in the SWAC record books with a record-setting 20-sack performance.
“I’m really seeking the record,” Hamilton said. “If I fall short, I fall short, but my main goal is to compete with the record that Robert Mathis set.”
As it stands, Hamilton is on pace for 22 sacks by season’s end. Who is Prairie View’s last regular season opponent? Alabama A&M.
Maybe, just maybe, history will be made once again in Huntsville, Ala.