Iowa City, Iowa – Our team at Hawkeye Heaven is writing a series of articles where we highlight each of the 22 commitments Iowa received in the 2018 class. We’ll share each recruit’s highlights, and do our best to mention what jumps out at us about each player on tape. Then we will predict what kind of an impact we think they will make in a Hawkeye uniform. Up next is wide receiver Nico Ragaini.
Nico Ragaini is a 6’0 190 lb wide receiver who has traveled to Iowa City from East Haven, Connecticut. Ragaini played most of his high school ball at Notre Dame – West Haven and then transferred in order to play one year at the Avon Old Farms prep school. While at Notre Dame, Ragaini was a three-time all-stater in football, he was voted the school’s Athlete of the Year, and he was a two-time recipient of the New Haven Register’s Athlete of the Year award. Ragaini is listed as a 3-star wide receiver on Rivals.
It sounds like Iowa tried to keep their recruitment of Ragaini under the radar in order to avoid other schools poking around late. In the end, this strategy seems to have paid off as Ragaini ended up committing to the Hawkeyes on January 9th, 2018. He selected the University of Iowa over offers from Boston College and Yale.
Notre Dame-West Haven Athletic Director and long-time football coach,Tom Marcucci, said the following about Ragaini (courtesy of the Notre Dame website):
“It is easy to say that Nico is one of the finest athletes to compete for Notre Dame in my 47 years as a coach. He is the only football player in school history to make all-State for three years and has been named all-State in lacrosse and indoor track as well. However, his accolades are not what separates him from other great athletes. It his genuinely humble nature and team-first attitude that are most impressive. He is a role model for all athletes to show that you can be determined, highly competitive, and tenacious on the field, and be a great teammate, classmate, and friend off the field.”
Ragaini sounds like a prototypical Hawkeye recruit doesn’t he?
Nothing about Nico Ragaini will jump out at you on paper, but the second you start watching his highlight tape you realize why the Hawkeye coaching staff decided to extend an offer. His highlight reel is a joy to watch. The young man is making plays all over the field.
It’s not often that you see a WR voted Athlete of the Year in a region or even MVP of a team. Why is that? The obvious answer is that those awards typically go to the QB delivering them the ball or the RB in the backfield. A WR has to make an incredible impact in order to put himself in a position to win those types of awards, and you can see on Ragaini’s tape that is exactly what he did.
MUST WATCH MOMENT – Turn it to the 1:41 mark in the video. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a play like that. The holder fumbles the snap and without even blinking Ragaini snatches the ball up, spins, and then takes it all the way to the house. Then on the very next play he looks like a natural Iowa receiver by taking a jail-break screen to the house. These two plays are perfect examples of this young man’s ability to make plays.
With his size and stature Nico Ragaini fits the mold of a Nick Easley type receiver. I would make the argument after watching his tape Ragaini may be more elusive than Easley. He can make a cut on a dime, he uses spin moves like a RB, and his vision with the ball in his hands is impressive. We’ve all seen what Nick Easley can do. He was a pleasant surprise to a depleted receiving core a year ago so if Ragaini can live up to that comparison or possibly surpass it then he’ll make the Hawkeye coaching staff look like geniuses for giving him chance.
I can’t lie… I’m excited about this young man being in a Hawkeye uniform and that wasn’t necessarily the case before I started doing my research in order to put together this article. He plays with a chip on his shoulder. That’s easy to see by watching his film. Based upon his numbers and highlight tape it’s easy to understand why. Major programs often times focus too much on measurables instead of watching what is right in front of them.
Ragaini is a damn good football player and I think he has the ability to contribute as soon as his sophomore year. He’ll probably end up redshirting as a freshman in order to put on some good weight and get familiarized with the playbook. Once he’s a year in I think he’ll start to show up on the depth chart at the slot receiver position and his ball carrying skills and vision will likely earn him opportunities as a returner on special teams as well. I think Hawkeye fans are going to end up loving the fact this young man is wearing the black and gold.
Welcome to the Hawkeye family Nico!