Junction City’s Aaron Hamilton (2) leaps to catch a pass during his senior season. After committing to play for Ottawa University in March, Hamilton decided to reopen his recruitment earlier this month because of financial constraints. He committed to play for MidAmerica Nazarene University in Olathe on Monday. The Pioneers plan to play Hamilton at safety.

Aaron Hamilton moved around a lot as a kid.

Beginning in Junction City, Hamilton moved to Columbus, Ohio, and then to Fort Meade, Maryland. His last stop was New Orleans before he returned to Junction City in third grade. A Manhattan native, Hamilton’s mom had heard from friends in the area about the Junior Jays football program, and got him to join the club as a fifth grader.

“(When) I came back in third grade, I didn’t know anyone,” Hamilton said. “I could have played with (the) Junior Jays in third grade, but I didn’t know about it. I played in fifth grade and that’s how I met all my friends. You stay on the same team every year with the same people every year. So I just grew with them and had the same coaches.”

Hamilton continued to play into high school, when he grew to truly love the sport. He didn’t have high expectations for himself going into his freshman year.

“Timid,” he said, was a perfect way to describe himself back then.

“When I came here freshman year, I wasn’t really expecting to be moved up,” Hamilton said. “I just knew I had to come in, run the offense and do what I needed to do. Then I came in my junior year and started varsity, and that’s when I played offense. I played offense (from my) freshman to junior year.”

And it was his senior year when Hamilton saw more doors open up in front of him, switching from offense to defense.

“My senior year, the senior classes before me were all defensive players, so they were all gone and graduated,” Hamilton said. “So I had to take one for the team and go where it was best for me and the team. I played safety, and I probably should’ve done that my freshman year because safety was a lot better for me.”

Hamilton’s play netted him an offer from Ottawa University, where he committed to play March 5. But because of financial constraints, he decided it was best for him and his family for him to explore other opportunities. On May 4, Hamilton reopened his recruitment. Then on May 20, Hamilton made a commitment to continue his football playing career and education at MidAmerica Nazarene University in Olathe.

“The offer was way better than Ottawa — way better financially,” Hamilton said. “The coaches were really nice to me and the location was a lot better. I’ll be playing in Olathe, and I’ll be able to do a lot more things.”

The Pioneers told Hamilton they plan to play him at defensive back and as a return man, owing to his speed. Since he only has played defense for one season, he plans to hit the film room and study more while trying to add additional weight and strength.

Hamilton has soaked in a lot from his playing time in Junction City. The “timid” player who walked onto the gridiron as a freshman in high school won’t be the same one walking onto it as a freshman in college.

“I know I have to be all-in, and I can’t be timid,” Hamilton said. “I need to go get what’s mine because anything can happen. I can take a senior’s spot any second, and a senior can get hurt any second. So I have to go all-in and be fearless.”