The bulk of Iowa's 2018 football signing class is in the books, but they're still adding a few more players and Monday night we found out about a brand new addition -- one who hadn't been on the radar at all. Rob Howe at Hawkeye Nation broke the news about Iowa's addition of Nico Ragaini:
The Hawkeyes stealthily recruited '18 CT WR Nico Ragaini. The offered scholarship Sunday night. He accepted it. He'll enroll Thursday. He spoke with HN about it Monday https://t.co/phjw2T56NH pic.twitter.com/YDp0qKDA6x
— Rob Howe (@RobHoweHN) January 9, 2018
(I love the idea of Iowa "stealthily recruiting" prospects, incidentally. Now I'm imagining Brian Ferentz, Ken O'Keefe, and Kelton Copeland wearing Iowa's blackout uniforms as they secretly pursue Ragaini...)
Ragaini is a deeply under-the-radar recruit: he hasn't been ranked by Rivals, 247Sports, or ESPN yet and they have very little information about him in general. So what do we know about Iowa's newest recruit? He was a two-sport athlete at West Haven Notre Dame High School in Connecticut, standing out in lacrosse and football, where he had over 3300 career receiving yards. He graduated in 2016-17 and spent last fall at a prep school (Avon Old Farms School). Ragaini, listed at 6-foot, 190, chose Iowa over an offers from Boston College and Yale.
Ragaini got onto Iowa's radar after attending one of Iowa's camps last summer, where he showed off the sorts of things that Iowa tends to look for, particularly in those under-the-radar, late-in-a-signing class recruits. As he told Rivals:
"I think I just showed them how hard I work and that I may not have the best forty time or be the biggest receiver, but I have the biggest chip on my shoulder and am confident in myself," said Ragaini.
He told Howe that he intends to enroll early at Iowa (this semester) and that he'll start on special teams and also compete for snaps at slot receiver:
“The campus was awesome. I can’t wait to get back to campus and get working,” Ragaini said. “Coach O’Keefe thinks I can play on all special teams and compete for a spot at slot this year. I’ll do whatever the coaches want me to do and work as hard as possible every day.”
You can check out his senior highlights below:
He's certainly a versatile player: the first 90 seconds shows off him taking an end around for a touchdown (Iowa was probably sold right there), delivering a big hit in pass coverage, and returning a punt for a touchdown. So he's got some skills to work with, certainly. Iowa definitely needs help in the return game (especially with Matt VandeBerg and Akrum Wadley departing) and there's an ongoing need for weapons in the passing game, so it's certainly all hands on deck there. If Ragaini can give a boost in either area in 2018, we'll be happy to see it. Welcome aboard, Nico.