By ELIZABETH A. DAVIS
Associated Press Writer
RALEIGH, N.C. (Dec. 3, AP) — Joe Hamilton’s formula for a successful college career is having fun. Apparently, the Georgia Tech quarterback has really enjoyed himself the last five years.
Hamilton was selected the 1999 Atlantic Coast Conference player of the year by The Associated Press after racking up plenty of gaudy statistics and contending for the Heisman Trophy.
The 5-10, 189-pound senior from Alvin, S.C., finished the season atop the ACC’s all-time total offense list with 10,640 yards and fourth on the league’s career passing list with 8,882 yards. He is also the league’s all-time leader in touchdown passes with 65 and tied for first in touchdown responsibility at 83.
“No doubt about it. You have to enjoy what you do and you have to really take pride in being here and being a college student and just like college football. For the most part, that’s been an integral part of my success,” Hamilton said.
Hamilton also was the runaway winner of the offensive player of the year in voting by the Atlantic Coast Sports Writers Association with 49 points over the second-place finisher, Thomas Jones of Virginia, with 17 votes. He was chosen over Jones and defensive player of the year, Keith Adams of Clemson, for player of the year honors.
“To be named player of the year with such a tough conference, exceptional players like Peter Warrick, Thomas Jones, Chris Weinke, LaMont Jordan. To be above those guys just says you went out and did what you had to do as a football player,” Hamilton said.
Hamilton, whose talent was questioned early because of his size, also finished seventh in the ACC in rushing with 734 yards. Even he is amazed by his records.
“I don’t think I realize it quite yet. I know I had a pretty good season because we were successful as a team and getting some things accomplished,” he said.
Georgia Tech coach George O’Leary has been making a case for Hamilton’s contention for the Heisman all year because of his ability to make big plays and lead the team.
“I don’t think any player in the country does as much for his team as Joe Hamilton,” O’Leary said. “He’s everything that you want in a quarterback from the standpoint of being a great leader and being very production in the run game and pass game.”
Hamilton said his final regular-season game against arch-rival Georgia is his best memory of college football. In the Yellow Jackets’ 51-48 win, he passed for 341 yards and four touchdowns and led his team in rushing with 94 yards.
“The last game against Georgia, that basically summed the whole thing up,” he said. “There’s no better way to go out in a game like that against your arch- rival and come out on top. It was pretty much a storybook ending.”
And Hamilton seems ready for the next chapter of his life despite having to leave Georgia Tech.
“I think I’m going to be a little bit of both sad and glad. Kinda sad because I’m leaving my teammates and leaving Tech and leaving such good memories behind and glad to move forward to the next step to try something new,” he said.
And what is in Hamilton’s future?
“Hopefully a career in the NFL. That is everybody’s dream to go to the next level to play and it’s certainly a dream of mine. If it doesn’t work out I have my degree and hopefully I’ll be able to play professional ball somewhere,” he said.