Justin Hamilton came to Virginia Tech back in 2001 as a running back from tiny Clintwood High School in Clintwood, Virginia. It was a part of the state that doesn’t often produce a ton of FBS football players, but when it does, it’s often big-time talent. Hamilton, Thomas Jones, Julius Jones and James Mitchell have all come from that part of the state and ended up in the NFL.
Hamilton’s size and athleticism made him an intriguing fit for the Hokies on those early 2000s teams. He would begin his career at running back before moving to wide receiver and finishing his career at safety. Hamilton succeeded at every position, but it was on defense where he found his home. Unfortunately, if Hamilton had been on defense from the start, he would’ve likely been a high draft pick.
Nonetheless, Hamilton was a seventh-round pick in the 2006 NFL draft by the Cleveland Browns. He also spent some time in 2008 on the roster of the Washington Redskins.
Hamilton got into coaching in 2011 at UVA-Wise, near his hometown. He spent three seasons there before moving on to VMI, where he’d coach the next four seasons. At VMI, Hamilton coached linebackers and special teams.
It was in 2018 when he’d return home to Blacksburg, joining Justin Fuente’s staff in an off-field role. In 2019, he joined Bud Foster’s defensive staff as safeties coach. After one season in his new role, Foster retired. And Virginia Tech promoted Hamilton to defensive coordinator.
While Hokie Nation was excited for Hamilton, they were concerned. Replacing Foster would be difficult, especially under Fuente entering a critical year five. Then COVID hit. Hamilton’s first season as a coordinator was wrecked due to COVID-19. Fuente was fired in Nov. 2021, and Hamilton finished out the season.
New head coach Brent Pry didn’t retain Hamilton, leaving him out of work in 2022. Now, Hamilton has a new job.
Last week, it was announced the Tennessee Titans had hired Hamilton as a defensive quality control assistant. While that’s essentially a beginner’s role on an NFL staff, it’s an incredible opportunity for Hamilton, who acknowledged the move on Twitter.
Officially outta the portal Thanks to all for the love ✊— Justin Hamilton (@coach_ham) February 8, 2023
Hamilton remains a terrific young coach with a bright future. And the great thing about coaching in the NFL is there is no recruiting. That’s a positive for a young coach with a family. In addition, Hamilton and his family now get to live in Nashville, which isn’t so bad.
We can always wonder if Hamilton would still be on Virginia Tech’s staff if he hadn’t been promoted in 2020. Pry would’ve certainly viewed him as an asset and could’ve been a great mentor for Hamilton.
Well, speculation does no one any good. All we can do is wish Coach Hamilton and his family all the best. Once a Hokie, always a Hokie. We here at Gobbler Country will root for the Titans and Hamilton.
Good luck, Coach Ham! We’re pulling for ya.