South Bend, Ind. - In a matchup of two tremendous players that will undoubtedly go against one another tonight in Notre Dame Stadium, Southern California wide receiver Drake London and Notre Dame safety Kyle Hamilton will be a part of the age-old rivalry between the Trojans and Fighting Irish.
Did London and Hamilton rack up big statistics thus far? Why are these two players considered to be elite? How does this matchup stack up?
Let’s start with the overall makeup of the players and what each accomplished so far this season and the prior two seasons.
Vitals: 6’5”, 210 pounds
High School: Moorpark (Calif.) High School
College: Southern California
Statistics: During the first six games of 2021, London accumulated 64 receptions, 832 yards, and five touchdowns. The junior is no stranger to success with the Trojans, hauling in 39 passes for 567 yards and five touchdowns as a mere freshman. He did well as a sophomore, too. During the shortened 2020 season, London caught 33 passes for 502 yards and three touchdowns.
Who is Drake London as a Player?
This big-bodied wide receiver should not be considered a burner. What he does best would be to beat any type of coverage used against him. To accomplish that feat, London’s best at beating defensive backs near the line of scrimmage by using his hands to fend off cornerbacks, running good routes, and maximizing his size and strong hands to catch contested passes.
Vitals: 6’4”, 220 pounds
High School: Atlanta (Ga.) Marist
College: Notre Dame
2021 Statistics: 32 tackles, two tackles for loss, three interceptions, and four passes broken up. His first year in South Bend saw Hamilton record 41 tackles, one tackle for loss, four interceptions, and six pass breakups. In 2020, Hamilton’s performance netted him 51 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss, one interception and six passes broken up.
Who is Kyle Hamilton as a Player?
During his freshman season, Hamilton’s first play in Notre Dame Stadium saw him intercept a pass against New Mexico and race 34 yards for a touchdown.
Those types of plays represent why most teams tend to stay away from Hamilton, but that does not stop him from making game-changing plays. Against Florida State earlier this season, Hamilton ran across the field and intercepted a pass that was along the sideline. His starting point was near the opposite hash, too far away from the play for any Florida State player to think Hamilton would be near the pass. Hamilton’s speed and instincts are rare and that’s why he made that incredible play against the Seminoles.
The Physical and Mental Matchup
Hamilton plays at different levels of the Irish defense, and also blitzes from different depths of the line of scrimmage, too. Will he eventually line up in press coverage and play London one-on-one? Not likely, but one does not know for sure.
What fans and NFL scouts alike should expect would be for Hamilton to try and defend deep passes to London from Southern California quarterback Kedon Slovis, and more importantly, be associated with the midfield zone that London will assuredly enter many times during tonight’s contest.
When London comes across the field, instead of just waiting and watching for big collisions, make sure to notice how each player positions himself to make a play on the football. It may only transpire two or three times during the game.
When they do battle for the football, the talent of each will undoubtedly stand out, but technique and mental awareness should win out when London battles Hamilton for the football while it’s in the air. It’s an intricate process.
Which player adjusts better prior to the snap of the football? Mental adjustments, as noted above, the truly great college players tend to make great plays with their intelligence as well as their physical talents. That’s what these two need to be graded on more than anything else on the field turf of Notre Dame Stadium.
The physical traits of London and Hamilton provide excellent examples of athletes with the size and athleticism to be multi-year NFL players. Now, can they show against one another that they understand tendencies in formation and down and distance, as well as how to best handle time management among other critical aspects of football?
In short, do each of these college stars maximize matchups away from one another, while also creating the best situation to beat one another when they do finally go after the same football during a handful of plays?
Football holds similarities to chess, with both forms of competition played with the mind. The winner between London and Hamilton will need to outsmart the other. How that scenario plays out could help Southern California or Notre Dame win the football game. Both are counted on heavily for the Trojans and the Irish.
Who wins the matchup would be hard to say, but it’s certainly going to be fun to watch regardless of which talented player comes out on top.
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