When former Clairton defensive back Noah Hamlin was released from his scholarship at the University of Cincinnati in July 2019, he thought his football career was over.
Hamlin had been arrested back at home in Pittsburgh earlier that month. After a traffic stop in which Hamlin allegedly fled from a Pittsburgh police officer, he earned a lengthy list of charges that included DUI, underage drinking and a felony for fleeing or attempting to elude a police offer.
Ten days later, he announced that he had been released from his football scholarship at Cincinnati. For Hamlin, it seemed like his football dreams were through and his court case had him facing potential jail time.
“It was really emotional,” Hamlin said to Pittsburgh Sports Now in a telephone interview Tuesday. “I thought it was over. That was the school that I was a ways envisioning going to the NFL from. When they decided to kick me off, it was really just hard.”
It took nearly a year, but Hamlin has finally found a new football home. Having diverted his case from trial through Pennsylvania’s ARD program, Hamlin has cleared his legal hurdles and now he’s committed to attend the University of Toledo this fall.
Toledo was one of the schools that recruited Hamlin when he was a three-star recruit coming off three WPIAL titles at Clairton. When he was looking for a new home, Rockets head coach Jason Candle was able to give Hamlin a second chance.
“When it first happened, I reached out to Coach Candle and we were talking basically the whole way until school started,” Hamlin said. “And he was basically just telling me it’s up to the school to see if they’ll let me come in. He basically said that I had everything for him, that he needed, for me to come in, it was based on school and based on my [legal] situation. … I was just really blessed Coach Candle helped me get in there.”
Hamlin says his experience at having nearly lost his football future and the promise of education attached to it has changed his outlook on life. On the other side of what felt like a low point at the time, Hamlin now sees the positives that have come out of his situation.
“When it first happened, I thought it was actually over until I calmed down a little bit, talked to my mom and dad and realized that there was still another shot to do what I wanted to do,” he said.
“It made me really cherish it and really be grateful about what I have going on. I think about how it can be taken away in the blink of an eye. It was a real wake-up call to really focus in and stop all the games. It was a real wake-up call from God. I think it helped me more than it belittled me. At first I thought it was a loss, but now I think it was a lesson.”
At Toledo, Hamlin will have two more seasons to make an impact, after sitting out his freshman year and playing in 2018 with the Bearcats. His lost 2019 season will still count against him, but he can make an appeal to the NCAA to get that time back. At any rate, once he gets back on the football field, Hamlin won’t be complaining.
After that, well, it’s still very possible to get to the NFL from Toledo. Just ask Steelers wide receiver Diontae Johnson or Penn Hills grad Treyvon Hester, now with the Green Bay Packers.
Even after his mistakes nearly cost him his dreams, Hamlin can still reach that goals.
“I’ve definitely got a good shot to go to the NFL from Toledo,” Hamlin said. “That’s what I’m saying. It was a hurt piece when it first happened. As time went, I looked at it as a lesson. If it didn’t happen, who knows how my mindset would be right now? I just think it was a big lesson.“