“Can’t knock me down.” A CorMontae Hamilton story

There is a quote which University of Memphis defensive lineman CorMontae Hamilton lives by. That quote reads: “To knock me down means that I’m defeated, and I won’t be defeated.”

This is a quote that Hamilton only discovered recently but it seems to tell his story in many ways. It symbolizes the journey he has gone on to get to where he is today, and the list of challenges he’s overcome. It’s a quote that brings him back to Decatur, Illinois, where he was born and raised prior to moving to Memphis, Tennessee at 5 years old with his family.

When he and his family moved to Memphis, CorMontae, who is now known nation-wide for his abilities on the football field, didn’t know anything about the sport. “I remember one day my dad and I were driving through Memphis. I was probably around 6 or 7 years old, and we had seen a football team practicing. Of course he knew what it was, but I didn’t know what they were doing, but I told my dad ‘I want to do that’ so we ended up going there and eventually signed up to play football.”

Hamilton grew up a Dallas Cowboys fan. He idolized both Demarcus Ware and Dez Bryant. As a kid, he remembers throwing up the X after big plays, and practicing Demarcus Ware’s pass-rush moves, but he also remembers watching a lot of SEC football, being raised into a Florida Gators fan by his father. He said that the Florida Gators, and SEC football was all he really knew when it came to college football. It was only in high school, around 11th grade when he realized how big college football really is, as well as the opportunities that can come with football around the country. It was when he began to dominate at Whitehaven High School in Memphis, when he began to get offers across the country, including those from Tennessee, Ole Miss, and Alabama in the SEC, but it was The Ohio State University where he decided to sign to originally. He may not have known a lot about the Buckeyes growing up, but he knew a lot about Urban Meyer and he knew that going to OSU in Columbus, Ohio was the best fit for him at the time.

(AP Photo/Jay LaPrete)

Over two seasons spent in Columbus, CorMontae Hamilton made an appearance in a total 13 games, had 6 tackles to his name, 3 of which being tackles for loss, and 2 sacks. His biggest highlight on the field with the Buckeyes came in the 2020 Big 10 Championship game where he perfectly read a screen pass and threw Northwestern Tight End John Raine to the ground for a big tackle for loss. It was moments like that on the field, as well as many lessons learnt off of the field that makes it obvious of how Ohio State benefited Cormontae Hamilton the football player and the man. “I feel like anything that had to do with Ohio State made me better.” he told JZ Media’s Jordan Zlomislic, “communication wise, I wasn’t necessarily bad or anything, but I am from Memphis, so going up there, not everyone could understand the slang and some stuff I was trying to say at times but being at Ohio State helped me get better with my communication, and a lot of other things too. Their support at Ohio State is amazing, so really everything that the football team had to offer the athletes helped me out as a person and helped shape me into who I am now.”

Now, Hamilton can be found back home, playing for the University of Memphis Tigers.

After two seasons with the Buckeyes in the Big 10, he decided to enter the transfer portal and take up the opportunity to return home and play for the Memphis Tigers in front of his family and friends.

In his first year back in Memphis, CorMontae Hamilton made his presence felt as a Memphis Tiger. He played in all 12 regular season games, and the First Responders Bowl, where he combined for a total 42 tackles, including 4.5 tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks, 2 pass deflections and one forced fumble. While being a key contributor to Matt Barnes’ defence, Hamilton has also made a great impact as a leader in the locker room with the Tigers, and a key piece to the community as well. Being able to have that kind of impact on a hometown team, Hamilton described it as, “a special moment” when he first realized the opportunity he had with Memphis. Another special moment for Hamilton was his first game in the Liberty Bowl last season. He said, “I didn’t know what the seating arrangements were for family before the game, so I was looking all over for my family during warmups and the first quarter, and I remember I just happened to look at a good angle, and I had seen my dad, my mom and my sisters. That put a smile on my face. And on the inside, something just felt different. It felt like home. And I locked right in on the game after that.” Being able to have family at the games in Memphis, “means a lot” to Hamilton, and also keeps Hamilton grounded as he approaches the next steps of his football career, like the quote: “to knock me down means I am defeated, and I will not be defeated” also keeps him grounded and motivated.

Photo by Zach Wall

One goal that Hamilton has for himself is “to continue to be the best version of myself.” he said, “I want to be a great football player, and do everything that I can to help my team win on and off of the field. I want to give back to the community. I’ve been here (Memphis) pretty well all of my life, and it would mean a lot to have an impact and be able to give back to the community I was raised in. Overall, in football, and outside of football I just want to place myself in situations that can lead me to being a better individual and help me improve in every area.”

Going back to the quote, “to knock me down means I am defeated and I will not be defeated.” as well as the line, “can’t knock me down.” It was something he had wrote down in his journal over a year ago. It was inspired by some quotes and brands he had seen on social media, and he felt as if what he wrote down also reflected on his story, and certain moments of his life that people around the world would also be able to relate to. “Something hit me and I said, ‘can’t knock me down.’ And when I said that I just kept repeating it, and I thought about my life, and there were moments in my life, when things happen, when issues or adversity arises, I never let it knock me down, so when I wrote down ‘can’t knock me down’ it hit home for me and I knew it would be something that others would relate to as well, so it’s something I want to build on moving forward with my career on and off of the field.”

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