By Ryan Dunleavy | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com on January 09, 2017 at 6:30 AM, updated January 09, 2017 at 10:58 AM Darius Hamilton will enter the NFL with less fanfare than he had entering Rutgers. But the former five-star recruit out of Don Bosco Prep High School has no less determination to reach his goals. If anything, Hamilton has more of it after missing a year of football due to a knee injury and re-discovering how much he loves the game. Breaking down Rutgers football recruiting 3 weeks from signing day In the six weeks since his Rutgers career ended, Hamilton signed with agent Robert Roche, accepted an invitation to play in the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl and moved out of his house in New Brunswick and into his digs on the campus of IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., where he will spend the next eight weeks training for Pro Day. Hamilton will detail his journey in a regular NFL Draft Diary exclusive to NJ Advance Media. Here is his first entry: I took about a week off just to let my body heal. That was really important coming off a long season. But I felt like that was the longest week of my life. I went with Julian (Pinnix Odrick), Derrick (Nelson) and Vance (Matthews) to meet with (Rutgers strength and conditioning coordinator) Coach (Kenny) Parker to get a routine. We started off easy with light weights and light cardio. We built up from there. Where are they now? RU defensive coaches Where are they now? RU defensive coaches Rutgers has been better on defense than offense over the years thanks to many of these coaches. Where are they now? I had a lot of advice from Leonte (Carroo) on Rob, but one of the things that drew me to Rob most was that the season (2015) where I got hurt and I didn’t really know what my future was looking like, Rob was in my corner heavy. He was one of the very few agents — maybe the only one — who had my back and told me everything was going to be alright. That went a long way for me personally. I was going through a tough time. The phone just kind of stops ringing. People send their best, but they don’t care like they did. Obviously, it’s a business. It is what it is. But Rob made the effort, and I think Rob genuinely cared. That’s something he didn’t have to do. There were no guarantees that I would get back on that field. There were no guarantees that I was going to be the same player I was. I don’t think Rob cared about anything like that. IMG is a top-notch facility, everything from the nutrition to the strength staff to the people that you work with on a day-to-day basis. It’s a beautiful place. It’s beautiful weather. It’s a beautiful campus. I’m a big fan. You have your own golf cart, which is great. I don’t have the fastest of the golf carts. I don’t know what that’s about. Some people have fast golf carts. I’m still trying to figure out what kind of pull I have around here to get those fast golf carts. I’m up from 5:30 a.m. and my days end at 7 p.m. You wake up, get breakfast and then you will probably go do some field work, get a little bit of speed work in. You get your physical therapy in and have lunch. It’s our first week so we’ve had a lot of different things mixed in to the second part of the day, but you can be anywhere from watching film with your coach to doing on-field drills with your coach, or being in classes to prepare you for the Wonderlic test or classes that test your hand-eye coordination. I think we’ll be in more of a set schedule as we go, but it’s been a lot of fun. I’m learning a lot of things from my coach Ray Hamilton. He played in the NFL for about nine years and he coached in the NFL for about 27. I’ve been fortunate enough to work with people like my dad, people like Jim Panagos and Shane Burnham. It’s been great working with Coach Ray. He’s a real old-school kind of guy. He’s a lot of fun to be around. He calls it like it is. He is teaching me a lot as far as offensive formations go. He is showing me how important it is to have great feet and not to waste a step. I think that might have been something I took for granted back in college. I was so caught up in playing the hands game. Don’t get me wrong. It’s a great game to play, but he is showing me how to play it all and how to do it all. I’ve been with him for a week, and I can tell you that by the end of these eight weeks I’m going to be a completely better player for it. My knee keeps getting progressively better. It’s something that I’m really excited about. Thrilled about it, to be honest. I feel like by the end of these eight weeks I’ll be in the best shape of my life. I’ll probably be the leanest 280 (pounds) I’ve ever been. A lot of people don’t take into account that when we started the season that just past I hadn’t conditioned all summer. I passed the conditioning test by the grace of God. Don’t ask me how I did that. I would say the first half of the season I was out of shape. I had a (knee) brace on. I think you could see that in the first couple games I played. I was absolutely gassed out there. I started coming into my own toward the end of the season. I started to form back to my old ways. There came a point where I couldn’t play with that brace anymore. I’m a strong believer in what Coach Parker always talks about. I wasn’t at first. But he used to tell me all the time, ‘If you are going to pray, don’t worry. If you are going to worry, don’t pray.’ I never really looked at it that way. All I can do is play this game the only way I know how to play. Whatever is going to happen is going to happen. I’m not going to go out there being extra cautious. I know what I signed up for. I made a conscious decision moving forward that I wasn’t going to wear the brace anymore, and it allowed me a lot more mobility. Just getting in better shape I think made me a better player. I have the NFLPA game coming up. I’m excited to go out there and play against some of the top guys in the country. I’m getting rehab and physical therapy probably about three times a day. I’m meeting with orthopedic specialists. We’ve got a lot of people around here who know what they are talking about. It’s great to be in a place like this that has everything within arm’s reach. If I need anything, or if they can help me in anyway, they are all about it. It’s great to see people invested as you are in your own career.