Our NFL Draft Q&A series continues with another local prospect in Karel Hamilton, who made a name for himself locally at newly-opened Strawberry Crest High School and then in college at Samford, where he put up video-game numbers as a senior: 111 catches for 1,389 yards and 14 touchdowns. He shined in the Shrine Game in St. Petersburg in January and is now headed to the Bucs' local predraft workout Friday. He took a few minutes to talk about his preparation for the draft ...
Q: How has this spring been for you, getting ready for pro day and workouts and the draft?
A: "It's been really long, a waiting game type of process. The Arizona Cardinals and Detroit Lions came on back-to-back days. Preparing for that week was really big for me. Just workout-wise, making sure my routes are still up to par, not having any games as of late. I wanted to feel crisp on the fundamentals of everything. Everything's finally started to come, and the end of this month is the big day where everybody finds out where they're going."
Q: Have you enjoyed this? I know it can be nerve-wracking.
A: "Definitely. I tried not to think about it too much, didn't let it overwhelm me, didn't let it hype my head up. Just stay humble, just keep working. The guys I'm working with, the teammates, it keeps your mind away and we keep each other humble. It's a great time with these guys."
Q: We had talked on the field after the Shrine Game. How was that week for you, helping showcase yourself?
A: "I definitely felt like I helped myself. My week started off shaky at first, but as the week went on, I definitely excelled. Just showing everybody that just because I'm from an FBS (I-AA) program, that doesn't mean I can't play with these big-school, big-name players. That was the competitiveness I tried to show. The players respected me, we respected each other. A lot of these guys I still talk to. It was a great process and a great experience for me."
Q: Are there small-school guys you follow in the NFL?
A: "We have a couple from Samford alone. I still talk to those guys every day. I still talk to (Panthers cornerback) James Bradberry and (49ers safety) Jaquiski Tartt. They give me updates and it's great. There are other guys from FBS programs and you see them and get hyped. You're sitting on your couch and it gives you that motivation, helps you out: If they're doing it, why can't you?"
Q: How much are you looking forward to going to One Buc Place and working out for the hometown team?
A: "It'd be a great feeling, being back home. The opportunity right there, that I could play in a Tampa Bay Bucs uniform, it's a great feeling. I'll have a lot of energy because that's the hometown team. It's a great feeling."
Q: You're getting used to making a splash from schools not everyone has heard of, first at Strawberry Crest and now Samford. I'm sure that's a motivation.
A: "I've always come from the smaller school, that place where I've had the opportunity to put my school on the map. In college, I've had a lot more help, but out of Strawberry Crest, not so much. It's a great feeling."
Q: Toughest player you went up against in college?
A: "I'd have to say it'd probably the grad transfer from the Citadel, (cornerback) Dee Delaney. He just transferred to Miami. He definitely had something about him out there on the field when he played. He was a really good player and I have a lot of respect for him."
Q: And best teammate you played with?
A: "I'd have to say (receiver) Gavin Sinclair. He graduated last year, doesn't have any league experience, but he's the guy that kept me humble, guided me, kept me working hard and on track with schoolwork, outside of football. He's definitely been that guy for me, a big brother to me."
Q: I like to ask this from a Birmingham guy, but we always ask for food recommendations. If I'm back around Samford, where's your favorite place to eat?
A: "Oh, man. I have to go with Mugshots or Hickory Tavern. Those are my two places."