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Football: Former West Forsyth QB Hamilton finds home at Southern Illinois
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West quarterback Kiernen Hamilton stayed hot, throwing four touchdown passes in Raider Valley - photo by submitted photos

The college football recruiting machine never stops, even when most teams have their incoming classes fully assembled. That has worked in former West Forsyth quarterback Kiernen Hamilton's favor, as the two-time all-region player is headed to Southern Illinois University of the Football Championship Subdivision as a preferred walk-on. 

Hamilton moved down to Forsyth County from New York before his junior year and made an immediate impact for the Wolverines, stepping into the spot vacated by Hampton McConnell, now at Georgia Southern. Hamilton played in all 22 of the Wolverines' games during his time at West, throwing for 55 touchdowns and more than 5,000 yards in his two years there. 

Former Wolverines head coach Adam Clack, now at Milton, remembered Hamilton coming in late to an already healthy quarterback competition and performing well enough to win the job outright. Hamilton asked Clack for a playbook and Hudl account before he moved down to Georgia, and he was ready to take the job when he arrived for summer workouts. 

"One of the first things that stuck out to me was just his ability to prepare, even on his own, and study and just give himself the opportunity to just jump right in and compete without any fear," Clack said. "(That) was just something I noticed right away. I knew we were going to have a special kid at quarterback for us the first day I watched him interact with our team because of that."

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- photo by File photo
Hamilton, who declined to comment for this story, stood out for his accuracy under center, as the Wolverines in a more pass-heavy direction to fully utilize his strengths. He led the Wolverines to playoff berths in both of his seasons at West and had planned to attend Ellsworth Community College in Iowa with the hopes of transferring to a four-year program. 

Clack isn't sure why Hamilton didn't get more recruiting attention. It might have been his profile as a pro-style pocket passer, with more schools looking for dual-threat athletes at the position, or there might have just been a dearth of quarterback spots to go around. 

"As I would talk and try to get information on him and circle back with coaches, everybody was just astonished that he didn't have more going on and that more people weren't pulling the trigger on him," Clack said. 

Some players, though, can turn being overlooked into a positive, channeling their frustrations with the process into competitive energy. Clack believes Hamilton can do that with the Salukis. 

"I don't think he'll take (the opportunity) for granted," Clack said. "I think he'll go and attack it."