Hamilton signs contract with Oakland Raiders

Published 12:00 am Saturday, May 13, 2000

Former Greenville High School football player Joey Hamilton's name never did get called during this past weekend's National Football League Draft; however, he is still getting his shot to pull down passes next year as he was offered a free-agent contract by the Oakland Raiders.

The wide receiver, who will finish final exams at Jacksonville State University, will hop a flight to the California coast next Thursday and will meet with the team that day. He said there will be a mini camp shortly after.

Hamilton said that several teams contacted him, but that it was Oakland that offered him the type of deal he wanted to make.

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"A number of teams began calling me during the seventh round of the draft. They were all trying to get ahead of the others. I chose the Raiders because they offered me the best deal and situation for me," Hamilton said.

Hamilton has signed a contract with the NFL franchise, but he still must prove he belongs before he makes the team.

"I'm going to give it a shot and see if it works out. If it doesn't I will be a little disappointed. But, if that happens I will come back and finish school next fall," he said.

For now, Hamilton is concentrating on his final examinations and hopes to make the most of the opportunity he has been given.

"I'm excited to be playing for any team. I think it will be very interesting and a good experience for me. I am going to give it my best shot and hopefully I will make the team," he said.

Hamilton had said that he would have liked to play close to the southeast, but always said he would go to any city where he was given a chance to play professional footballeven if it is on the west coast.

"It's a little far away, but I had to jump on the opportunity. It would have been nice to play in the south, but I think playing in Oakland would be a great experience," he said.

Hamilton, a former Greenville Tiger, has completed his college football career at Jacksonville State University and is hoping that his play earns him the right to go to the next level. He has broken almost every receiving record at JSU and holds the record for the most career receiving touchdowns in the Southland Conference.

The first time that the receiver realized he had an opportunity to play on a professional level was when he was invited to an exclusive combine where teams scout collegiate prospects.

"It didn't hit me until after I got that invitation. I had no communication with anybody regarding the NFL, but then when I received that I realized that I may have a chance," he said.

Along with a couple of workouts on his own college campus where scouts were present, the combine allowed Hamilton to show his talents to a variety of teams.

"The combine was by invitation only and was held in Indianapolis. We did a lot of shuttle drills and were timed running the 40. They were primarily looking at the players' speed, vertical

(jumps) and agility. It was a great experience for me. I really enjoyed it," he said.

Last week, Hamilton was recognized as Jacksonville State's Male Athlete of the Year.

He completed the 1999 football season with 58 receptions for 796 yards ans six touchdowns. He averaged 13.7 yards per catch. He was also named to the first team All-Southland Conference team.

During his entire career at JSU he had a streak of 38 straight games with at least one reception.

Hamilton currently owns or has tied five school records including the mark for touchdown receptions (23) set in 1999. He also holds the school record for the longest kickoff return (100 yards against Samford in 99) and the longest pass reception for a score (93 yards against SW Missouri State in 97). He is also the school's all-time leader in pass receptions (176) and receiving yards (2,880).

While he was at GHS, Hamilton was a two-time first team All-State player. He caught 41 passes for 850 yards and ten touchdowns his senior season. He also played tailback for three games, rushing for 480 yards and four touchdowns. He helped the Tigers to an area championship in 1992, finished runner-up in the state in ’93 and won the Class 5A state crown in 1994.

With a handful of records and awards, Hamilton said that his best attribute has always been, and always will be, his attitude.

"Attitude has been the key to the success I have had. It has always been important for me to play with a positive attitude and that goes for more than just football. With the right attitude and hard work people can accomplish anything," he said.