Hamlin joins Lions on Signing Day

Published 9:00 am Thursday, February 6, 2020

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VALLEY — Valley defensive lineman Jaden “JD” Hamlin achieved his childhood dream on Wednesday morning as when he signed with East Mississippi Community College.

“It feels good. I’m just happy,” Hamlin said.

The distance from home was one of the big factors that led Hamlin to sign with East Mississippi, as it is just four hours away from Valley High School.

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Hamlin is a mountain of a high schooler, as he stands 6-foot-4 and weighs 285 pounds. He was a force in his final year as a Ram. He was able to make plays on defense, cutting off the opponent’s running game, and he finished with a team-high 91 tackles

“This is what the kid has worked for and dreamed about his whole life,” Valley head football coach Buster Daniel said. “I’m just proud to see him go to college and play football.”

Alongside his play on defense, Hamlin was able to make a couple plays on offense. He lined up as a tight end on a couple of plays and was able to haul in a pair of touchdowns on three catches, finishing with 117 receiving yards as a senior.

“He caught two touchdowns on offense,” Daniel said. “You have a big player like him catching touchdowns. He’s just a great player and a good kid. He’s fun to be around.”

While he made an impact on the stat sheet, Hamlin’s biggest impact was being one of the team’s leaders.

“He’s a leader on the field and a leader off the field,” Daniel said. “He ran the defense out there. He’s put in a lot of work to get to this moment.”

Part of his leadership came from the playing time he had in his career. As a freshman, he was in the defensive linemen rotation, making important plays for the Rams. He started the next three years, continually leading the team in tackles.

East Mississippi is one of the best community college teams in the country, as it has won five National Junior College Athletic Association National Championships. The Lions also have been one of the best producers of talent for four-year colleges in recent history.

The team’s success drew the attention of Netflix and became the hit show “Last Chance U,” which followed the team throughout two different seasons.

Hamlin watched the show before he committed, so he knows what the level of expectations the coaches have for their players

“It’s nothing new, just another step from high school,” Hamlin said. “They have a lot of wins and a lot of rings.”