CorMontae Hamilton has recounted the Greyhound bus story so many times by now, he could likely tell it in his sleep.
The 4 a.m. wakeup call in the middle of summer. The 24-plus hours the 17-year-old spent going from Memphis to Columbus, Ohio, and back — alone. The countless number of Lil Baby, Young Dolph and YoungBoy Never Broke Again tracks that pumped through his Beats by Dre to keep him company. The Uber driver who kindly stopped at a Columbus Chick-fil-A before dropping him off at a Comfort Inn for the night. The gloves and cleats he threw into a backpack and wore the next day at Ohio State’s Friday Night Lights football camp.
Hamilton, a three-star tight end and one of Whitehaven’s senior captains, so coveted a scholarship offer from the Buckeyes that he was willing to do whatever it took to put himself in the right place at the right time to get it.
“My team growing up was the Florida Gators,” said Hamilton, whose family moved to Memphis from Decatur, Illinois, almost a decade ago. “And Urban Meyer was the head coach there at the time. So I had been feeling Ohio State for a long while.”
Why trip to Columbus, Ohio, was on a Greyhound
But Hamilton’s plans hit a snag shortly before he was set to head north on June 21. The 6-foot-1, 246-pounder’s mother, Nikki Gilmore, couldn’t get off work in time to make the drive. So she nervously agreed to let him board a Greyhound at the Airways Boulevard station.
“I think it was worse for me,” said Gilmore, who dropped her son off early the morning before the one-day camp. “Between me, my mom and my sister, we worried the whole time. They were like, ‘Did you talk to him? Have you heard from him?’ So I called him, like, every other second. And when I wasn’t calling, I was texting. I was telling him to watch the people around him. ‘Watch your surroundings. Make sure you carry your backpack with you at all times. Don’t be texting and tweeting while you’re walking.’
“He was like, ‘Mom, I’m fine.’”
Despite battling an injured shoulder, Hamilton earned the scholarship offer he was after and committed to the Buckeyes on July 27.