Quarterback Thomas Hamilton of Oregon City committed to Portland State when Nigel Burton was still the head coach of the Vikings.
In the wake of Burton’s dismissal following a 3-9 season and PSU’s decision to give interim head coach Bruce Barnum a one-year contract for the 2015 season, Hamilton’s loyalty to Portland State remained undaunted.
The 6-foot-3, 220-pound Hamilton will sign with the Vikings on Wednesday (a/k/a National Signing Day), the first day when Division I football players are allowed to sign Letters of Intent with their schools of choice.
“Coach Barnum is actually the one who recruited me, so when I found out he was going to be the coach for a year, that was reassuring,” Hamilton told Viking Tales. “We have a pretty good relationship. I like the up-tempo offense they run. It will be a fun offense to learn and run eventually.”
Barnum’s one-year contract for the 2015 season did not deter Hamilton.
“We just have to see what happens. I decided to take my chances,” Hamilton said. “There are a lot of positives that can come from it, but we’ll just have to wait and see. I stayed in contact with him through the whole process and he kept me updated. What he thought would happen ended up happening. He thinks there could be a bright future there. I trust him.”
Hamilton’s first exposure to Portland State occurred last summer when he participated in PSU’s summer camp. Barnum and Hamilton talked there and continued to communicate throughout the fall.
“He told me he was going to watch me and I was one of their top couple of guys,” Hamilton said. “He just wanted to see me play in person and get to know me a little bit as a person. We had a lot of casual conversations.”
Hamilton excelled for Oregon City High School after throwing for 1,470 yards and 12 touchdowns in 2013 at Baker High School in Baker City, Ore., leading the Pioneers to a final record of 7-4 and the second round of the Class 6A playoffs.
“We both got here at about the same time and getting Thomas was a pleasant surprise for me,” Oregon City coach Randy Nyquist told Viking Tales. “Thomas did a lot of great things for our football program. His leadership by example was top of the shelf. He was as good as it gets. He is a great kid and works hard. You couldn’t ask for anybody with higher character than Thomas.
“It’s not easy moving hundreds of miles away from your home and starting in a new school when you don’t know anybody. But he fit right in and did everything he had to do to gain the respect of his teammates and coaches.”
Hamilton will sign his scholarship papers to Portland State during a ceremony scheduled for Wednesday at 2:15 p.m. in the Oregon City High gym.
Nyquist, who played at Portland State with legendary Vikings quarterback Neil Lomax, contended Hamilton possesses all the tools required for success playing quarterback at the Division I level.
“Thomas has the total package,” Nyquist said. “The mental part of playing the game, using his eyes, decision-making and reacting to adversity, he is great. When you throw in the physical attributes that he has, he is a big, strong kid that can move his feet. He is accurate throwing the football and has good arm strength.
“And he’s a fierce competitor. I don’t know how you could ask for much more from a kid. He’s a winner and a guy you can build a team around. I know Thomas is capable of playing there and doing a really good job for them.”
Hamilton is pleased with the decision to leave Baker City and head to the Portland Metropolitan area.
“It was a good move for both my Mom and I,” Hamilton said. “We both decided to do it. It definitely helped playing against higher competition and meeting new coaches. The greater exposure helped too and I think I became a better player.”
Baker is classified a 4A school.
Staying close to home was a major factor in Hamilton’s decision to commit to Portland State. He attended several Vikings home football games this past season.
“It’s nice being close to the family and I like this area,” Hamilton said. “And I’ve come to know the coaches pretty well, too.”
Hamilton described Providence Park as “a cool place to play.”
“Obviously, we need to win more games to get some people there,” Hamilton said.