Welcome to the 9th article in the “Focus in” series. Today we’re taking a look at former Oregon State edge Hamilcar Rashed Jr. We’ve already touched on a number of players and you can read those by clicking the names below. As always I hope you enjoy and if there is a prospect you’d really like covered, then drop their name in the comments below.
Hamilcar, who was named after his father Hamilcar Sr, started playing football when he was just five years old. He played the first three seasons of high school ball at Cesar Chavez High School in Arizona, lining up at outside linebacker, defensive end, wide receiver and tight end. As a Junior he recorded 10 sacks in a single game, and earned first-team all-state as a Junior and Senior. He transferred to Chandler High School before his senior season, and while at Chandler he put up 100 tackles and 13 sacks.
Despite his dominance at points in high school, he was listed as just a 3* recruit by 247 and fielded just three scholarship offers from Nebraska, Oregon State and Fresno State. Texas A&M came calling, but the grades weren’t quite there. Hamilcar worked tirelessly to improve his grades, and he turned it around. After he’d committed to Oregon State, the Oregon Ducks came calling, trying to flip his commitment, but that was never really on the cards.
Hamilcar’s older brother Keondre Dew had already committed to the Beavers for basketball, and his high school teammate Mason Moran had also signed up for the football program. Being at the same school as his older brother had always been a dream of Hamilcar’s, so the match was perfect.
“We learned that if this 105-degree weather can’t stop us, nobody can,” said the 6-4, 220-pound Rashed. “Me and my brothers used to always play outside, motivating each other. We stressed how we could run college together. My brother Keondre would control the basketball court and I’d be running the football field, so we always said we were a package deal from the start.
“And Oregon State made that dream come true when they offered me and my brother, so there was no doubt about committing to Oregon State.”
Little fun fact, Hamilcar’s Pop Warner team was also nicknamed the Beavers, so how's that for a little continuity. Once a beaver always a beaver...well until you’re a Jet that is.
Hamilcar used his redshirt season in 2016 as he settled into college life and into a college football program. The Beavers coaching staff were really encouraged with what they saw in the Spring of 2017, as the 6’4 230lb Rashed showcased his speed, athleticism, and aggression. The defensive coordinator did have a lot of talent at outside linebacker, but there was a lot of hope for the redshirt freshman to come in and make a statement. Unfortunately, the 2017 season didn’t quite go that way as Hamilcar appeared in 1ll 13 games, but failed to start any and recorded just 6 tackles on the season.
2018 saw Hamilcar nail down a starting spot under new defensive coordinator Tim Tibesar. As we touched on with the Dunn article, there wasn’t a lot of talent for new head coach Jonathan Smith to work with when he arrived in Corvallis, but safety Jalen Moore and Hamilcar turned into the foundations to build around for the Beavers. Hamilcar finished with 52 tackles, 11.5 tackles for a loss, 2.5 sacks, 1 forced fumble and 3 passes defended at the outside linebacker position. He flashed everything you wanted to see and more and the expectations heading into the 2019 season were rising.
Fortunately, Hamilcar did not disappoint. Defensive coordinator Tim Tibesaw said that this climb was “inevitable” given his physical talents and work ethic, and Rashed put it down to being able to play faster in 2019 after gaining valuable experience in 2018 in the same system. Statistically, it was eye-poppingly good. Hamilcar finished the 2019 season with 62 tackles, 22.5 tackles for a loss, 14 sacks, 2 forced fumbles and 3 passes defended, again from the outside linebacker position.
“Ham has played at a high level,” OSU linebackers coach Trent Bray said. “He has become that guy he is capable of being. He is being disruptive in the backfield and is making tackles behind the line of scrimmage, which is what we need those outside guys to do.”
“He is able to run plays down and do stuff off the edge that creates problems for an offense. That’s his greatest asset — such good athletic ability for his size.”
If you flip on his 2019 tape, and I encourage you to do just that, you’re going to see a lot of things that you like. You’re going to see excellent play recognition, + burst and closing speed, excellent leverage, a ton of quickness and a lot of agility. He uses his length perfectly to keep blockers out of his body and his nose for the ball is exceptional. His 2019 season against a decent Pac-12 division is some of the best tape you’ll see for an outside linebacker. He doesn’t always play with the power you’d want and he doesn’t have a vast array of pass-rushing moves, but he impacted pretty much every single game he played in.
He was named First-Team All-American, First-Team All-Pac-12. He led the entire FBS in tackles for a loss and he led the Pac-12 in sacks.
It wasn’t just about football though. Hamilcar has always wanted to give back and make a difference off the field. He took part in service projects in high school to feed the homeless. He took part in the Oregon State university program “Beavers without borders” and flew to the Dominican Republic to lend a helping hand to those who needed it:
“It was a life-changer for me,” Rashed said. “We planted yucca and corn, helped make houses for the people there. The idea was, we can help them, but they have to take the next step to help themselves. I’m glad I went. It’s good to give back.”
The 2020 season didn’t quite go to plan. As you can imagine, after the 2019 season the expectations were astronomical. However, the 2020 season was a season like no other, but for me, people are making far too much of last season and not enough of the 2019 one. He finished the 7 game season with 23 tackles, 2 tackles for a loss and 0 sacks and 1 forced fumble. The issues were across the board and not just restricted to the performances of Hamilcar:
“We have not made the kind of impact in the first two games that we need to make” Tibesaw said. “We expect those guys to be dynamic playmakers in this defense. They should have the opportunity to make tackles for losses, sacks, hits on the quarterback, disrupting the line of scrimmage”
While Tibesar wasn’t placing the blame at the feet of Rashed, as the leader of the defense and premier outside linebacker in the program, he did emphasize” the need to get Rashed going:
“In my opinion, he’s had average games for what he is capable of” said Tibesar on Hamilcar. “ I think he would agree with that, that he can play better, that he can make a bigger impact on the game. We’ve got to get him playing at his highest level as fast as possible”
Unfortunately, that just didn’t happen in 2020. Hamilcar got better as the season went on and played a pivotal role in the win against Oregon. It may not show on the stat sheet, but he was exceptional that game and did a lot of the dirty work to allow his teammates to make plays on the ball. He also struggled through a number of injuries last season, nagging injuries that didn’t keep him out, but which impacted him. You could see that he wasn’t at 100% through the season and that has to factor into your evaluation:
“It’s definitely frustrating,” Rashed explained. “I can’t stay healthy. Last year I got bumps and bruises but I got back up and kept playing at a high level. I can see it taking an effect on me but I’m still out here, I’m still working, I’m still coming to practice every day trying to get better.”
A lot of outlets had him as a 6th or 7th round talent entering the 2021 NFL Draft. At just over 6’2 and 250lb’s, some saw him as an undersized edge who didn’t have the fluidity of playing as an off-the-ball linebacker. It may be that a 3-4 outside linebacker is his most natural fit, but with his length, speed, and attitude he can find a home in any system. He also enjoyed a really productive Senior Bowl week where a lot of media outlets singled him out for praise.
The Jets are looking for linebackers who offer the quickness, length and lateral agility needed to counteract the modern game. Hamilcar does offer that, he’s a really interesting prospect and that 2019 tape alone makes me believe he’ll stick.