Healthy Hamilton Runs Wild Against Tech

by - Correspondent -
Derrick Hamilton returns the punt 79 yards to set up a Tiger touchdown.

CLEMSON - Clemson head coach Tommy Bowden said early in the week that wide
receiver Derrick Hamilton "looked better" in his attempt to recover from a
tendon problem in his lower leg.

No kidding.

Hamilton, the Dillon High School product, totaled 256 all-purpose yards in
Saturday's 24-19 victory over Georgia Tech. The total was good enough for
fifth all-time in Clemson history, and fell just 18-yards shy of the record
set by Terrence Flagler (274) against Wake Forest in 1986.

A quadruple threat Saturday, Hamilton had:

- 98 yards rushing, including a 77-yard touchdown run;

- 96 yards in punt returns, including a 79-yarder late in the first half;

- 22 yards on two receptions;

- 41 yards on kickoff returns.

More importantly, for the first time this year Hamilton showed himself to be
the dazzling playmaker he was for most of the 2001 season.

"He really has great potential," head coach Tommy Bowden said. "If you watch
him run, it looks like you could tackle him. But I think his spine is made of
noodles...he just bends and he's really tough to tackle.

"He's a tall target and uses a stiff arm, and he does have deceiving speed
when he gets to the second level."

Hamilton, always low-key, chose to distribute praise to others for his
performance rather than accept the accolades alone.

Witness his comments after the dynamic punt return that set up an important
touchdown in the first half's final minute:

"Great blocking. They gave me a little bit of time, just enough to work
with," Hamilton said. "It was a good job by the coaches preparing for it, and
everybody just blocked."

He did admit, however, that feeling healthy for the first time this season
made a huge difference in his play.

"I felt good," he said. "In the Georgia game I didn't play worth nothing.
Against La. Tech I was all right. But when I was healthy somebody was going
to get it. Fortunately it was Georgia Tech.

"I'm not hurting anymore. I came out and played hard."

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