In the midst of last night’s College Football National Championship game, Iowa Hawkeye fans got some good news on the recruiting trail. In a complete surprise, Rob Howe of HawkeyeNation reported the Hawkeyes landed a commitment from Connecticut wide receiver Nico Ragaini.
The news was surprising for a number of reasons. First and foremost, we are in the final week of a recruiting dead period, meaning Ragaini hasn’t been able to make it to campus for a visit or have a face to face conversation with the Iowa staff. The dead period doesn’t prevent phone conversations or text/direct messages via social media and it didn’t prevent the Iowa staff from making a scholarship offer on Sunday.
Aside from the timing of the offer and commitment, the recruitment of Ragaini is surprising in its own right. Originally a member of the 2017 recruiting class as a prep from Notre Dame High in West Haven, Connecticut, Ragaini opted to take a post-grad year at Old Farms School in Avon, CT. He had originally intended to play lacrosse at Cornell following his post grad year.
So how does a prep school product from Connecticut end up headed to Iowa City? Ken O’Keefe, of course. O’Keefe for years built inroads on the recruiting trail in New England, often finding diamonds in the rough who are overlooked. A year ago, he came across Ragaini when he was still at Notre Dame. Ragaini made the trip to Iowa City for a camp over the summer and O’Keefe stayed in contact.
With the early signing period wrapped up, the Iowa staff has been able to take the dead period to evaluate remaining needs and decide who to target down the home stretch. Receiver was an area of focus and when the Hawkeyes decided to make the offer, Ragaini was ready.
“I wanted to play for Iowa since I visited this past summer,” Ragaini told HawkeyeNation. “I love their blue-collar mentality and feel like I fit in with that concept.”
“I’ve been hoping for the Iowa offer and finally got it. I knew that’s where I wanted to be,” Ragaini told HawkeyeReport.
So what do Hawkeye fans need to know about the newest member of the class of 2018?
Hometown: West Haven, CT
Ragaini looks to fit in as a slot receiver in Iowa’s offense, a role similar to that filled by JUCO walk-on Nick Easley this past season. Easley was reportedly added to scholarship over the break and has a season of eligibility left. Ragaini could fill that void upon his departure. In the meantime, Ragaini expects to be involved on special teams.
“Coach O’Keefe thinks I can play on all special teams and compete for a spot at slot receiver this year,” he told HawkeyeReport.
At 6’ and 190 pounds, Ragaini has a good build for a slot receiver. He isn’t a burner, per se, but he shows solid speed consistently getting behind defenders and outrunning would-be tacklers in his prep season film. He also shows good agility with the ball in his hands. He does a great job of catching the ball with his hands and can high-poing the ball in the redzone.
During his senior year at Notre Dame, Ragaini racked up just shy of 1,000 receiving yards and six TDs on 59 catches for an average of 16.7 yards per catch. He amassed 1,591 all-purpose yards and added 5 rushing TDs. He also finished his high school career as Connecticut’s all-time leader in receptions with 222. He is second in the state all-time in yardage with 3,345, behind only former Patriots TE Aaron Hernandez.
Choosing the Hawkeyes over a grayshirt offer from Boston College and an opportunity at Yale, Ragaini becomes the third receiver commit in the class of 2018 for Iowa. He joins Florida product Calvin Lockett and Indiana-native Tyrone Tracy. He’s the lone commit from the state of Connecticut in the class, which now stands at 19 (including junior college commit Daviyon Nixon, who signed a year ago).
As a prep school prospect, Ragaini intends to enroll early. He will arrive later this week, joining California QB commit Spencer Petras and JUCO defensive tackle Daviyon Nixon. All three will be enrolled in classes which begin next week.
You can read up on who Ragaini will be joining in Iowa’s class of 2018 in our early signing period recap. You can also re-hash all the updates from the early signing period in our headquarters. We’ll continue to keep you updated as the February signing period quickly approaches.
Welcome aboard Nico Ragaini!