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Penn State's DaeSean Hamilton (5) catches a pass against Minnesota in the 2nd quarter on Oct. 1, 2016. Photo/Craig Houtz

There was no down time for DaeSean Hamilton after his college football career ended following Penn State’s 35-28 win over Washington in the PlayStation Fiesta Bowl Dec. 30. And that’s the way he wanted it.

The Mountain View High School graduate left with the remaining Nittany Lions the next day for State College. He spent a day packing up workout gear and dress clothes before flying down to Fort Lauderdale Jan. 1 to begin preparations for the next step in his plans to play in the NFL.

“That was on me,” Hamilton said. “I wanted to get there as soon as possible. I couldn’t wait to get this process started.”

For the next seven weeks, Hamilton’s home is the XPE Sports facility under the guidance of trainer Matt Gates. There with around 20 other NFL prospects, Hamilton works on things like his interview skills and improving his 40 time as he goes through the evaluation process leading up to the April 26-28 NFL Draft.

The first stop is Saturday, where he will compete in the East-West Shrine Game in St. Petersburg, Fla. Hamilton left Jan. 12 for the week-long practices that include meeting NFL personnel. Once the game is over, Hamilton will return to Fort Lauderdale to train for the NFL Combine Feb. 27-March 5 in Indianapolis.

Hamilton said he has an idea of what to expect at each destination, especially when it comes to meeting with NFL teams trying to see if he fits in his plans.

Hamilton, who finished as Penn State’s all-time leading receiver with 214 receptions, is projected at this point as a late-round pick or undrafted rookie free agent. But a good showing at East-West, the NFL Combine and or Penn State’s pro day could raise his stock.

“I think he's a top 100 pick,” said Chad Reuter, NFL.com draft analyst. “If he runs well in Indy, maybe second round. Good combination of size, speed, and good hands.”

He finished on a strong note at the Fiesta Bowl, where, playing the slot, he caught two touchdown passes. For the game, Hamilton recorded five catches for 110 yards. For the season, the second-team all-Big Ten selection totaled 53 receptions for 857 yards and nine touchdowns.

A reliable pass catcher, who went without a reception in only two of his 53 career games, the 6-foot-1 Hamilton knows NFL teams will focus on his speed.

It’s a question that he’s dealt with since he arrived at Penn State. And it’s one he answers the same way. He doesn’t take offense. Instead, he tells people to let his game film address the issue.

“I play a lot faster than people believe,” Hamilton said. “I work hard to prove people wrong. I take it as it comes. It doesn’t really bug me. I’m not a stranger to the criticism. I’m well-prepared for that.”

To get a sense of what to expect from the various events he will attend, Hamilton talks to former Penn State teammates like Brandon Bell and Chris Godwin. This season, Bell was an undrafted rookie free agent linebacker with the Cincinnati Bengals and Godwin a third-round pick as a wide receiver by Tampa Bay.

“The major imperative is to put myself first,” said Hamilton. “I’m not on a team that have to worry about anymore.”

Hamilton signed with agent Ed Wasielewski to help steer him through the process. Wasielewski, who is based in Philadelphia, connected with Hamilton and his parents. Hamilton met Wasielewski once and met with Hamilton’s parents at their Stafford home as well. In both instances, Wasielewski made a good impression.

“I wasn’t nervous,” Hamilton said. “It was like college recruiting all over again. It’s who you feel comfortable with.”

Wasielewski recommended Hamilton train at XPE Sports. Hamilton works out six days a week, once in the morning for 90 minutes to two hours and then again in the afternoon. With his schedule set, Hamilton makes sure he’s performing at the highest level possible.

“I have a good idea what the daily routine is,” Hamilton said. “The biggest question is what will happen at the end of April.”

David Fawcett is the sports editor for InsideNoVa.com Reach him at dfawcett@insidenova.com

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