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Notre Dame Football

The Boogie Man Eyeing Homecoming in Atlanta on Halloween

October 28, 2020

You know Kyle Hamilton has South Korean heritage by now, but were you aware the 6-foot-4, 220-pounder holds the nickname The Boogie Man?

Doug Jackson, a close family friend, gave the Notre Dame star the nickname for his basketball skills at a young age. 

Jackson also might know a thing or two about athletic talent as his son, Nick, is one of the top tacklers in the ACC this year at Virginia. 

Hamilton got to play in Athens last year, but a mature Boogie Man will get a true homecoming this weekend and he’ll be joined by fellow Atlanta (ish) natives JD Bertrand, C’Bo Flemister, Isaiah Pryor, Tommy Tremble and KJ Wallace as the Irish travel to Bobby Dodd Stadium on Halloween.

"That was an eye-opening experience for it to be my first," Hamilton said of the game at Georgia last fall. "The atmosphere, the team we were playing and the situation - as a player, I think I've grown on a maturity level and that goes hand in hand with growing as a person. Physically and mentally - just being more commanding on the field. Being more of a leader and someone that everybody can look to. 

"Personally, I feel the same thing. I've just grown up. I had wide eyes in that Georgia game. Now, things are starting to become more normal for me." 

The Marist School (Ga.) is where Hamilton became known for his football talents on a national level, but it also developed him off the field to handle the demands of a school like Notre Dame. 

"Marist prides itself on being a college preparatory school," explained Hamilton. "A lot of people who leave Marist say it's actually harder than college. Honestly, I would probably say the same. 

"I'd never disrespect Notre Dame, but Marist has a large workload a lot of people who do extracurriculars as well. It's a good foreshadowing for what's going to come in college and it prepares you very well." 

The decision to head to Notre Dame from Marist was perhaps more comfortable than most think. Hamilton didn't want to stay in Georgia as he wanted to grow as a man and develop his own path in college. 

"It was a tough decision leaving home," Hamilton said. "My family supported me because staying in Georgia would have been a great experience, but I also would have been kind of closed-minded being around the same people I had been around for my whole life. 

"Here at Notre Dame and in Indiana, people come from all over the world. It's just a bigger and better experience that I get here as a person. I feel like I've grown more as a result from being here rather than being in Georgia." 

However, don't think Hamilton has forgotten his roots in Atlanta. From a young age, Hamilton was surrounded by professional athletes and those in athletics as his parents made sure he learned from their colleagues. 

"Being around pros since I can remember, it showed me at a young age how to work like a pro and why everybody isn't a pro," stated Hamilton. "It takes a lot of work even if you have the most talent in the world. You still have to work harder than everybody else. Once talent fails to work hard, then there's not going to be a good result there.

"I learned from everybody, whether that be NBA players or NFL players, that you have to work in order to get what you want." 

Hamilton might have been wide-eyed when he took the field at Sanford Stadium last September, but Georgia Tech will see a much different player and Notre Dame team on Saturday afternoon. 

Notre Dame football coach Brian Kelly issued a challenge to his team after a subpar effort against Louisville and it's been taken to heart. 

"It was a kind of a relief and it hyped us up a little bit," Hamilton said. "We stopped going into games thinking, 'Ok, let's just get a win this week. One week at a time.' 

"I think he has confidence in us and gave off the message that we're a good team and trying to win games, but we're trying to win games by a lot. We're trying to dominate other teams, which I think and he thinks and everybody thinks we're capable of doing week in and week out. 

"His message to us kind of put something in our minds saying 12-7 wins over Louisville aren't acceptable. We need to be doing better than that and we are better than that. We showed that last week and hopefully, we continue this week and for the rest of the season." 

Kelly's message of what's next was off-brand and might have come at the right time as it could be the turning point of the 2020 season. 

"Honestly, I was a little surprised to hear it," said Hamilton. "They're always preaching what's important now, but he had more of a what's important next mindset. He told us we need to step our game up to prove that we're, in fact, the No. 4 team in the country. 

"I think his message worked because we showed that last Saturday." 

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