Aug. 9, 2012
Editor's Note: The following first appeared in the University of Iowa's Hawk Talk Daily, an e-newsletter that offers a daily look at the Iowa Hawkeyes, delivered free each morning to thousands of fans of the Hawkeyes worldwide.
By BRADY JOHNSON
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- When offensive graduate assistant and tight ends coach David Raih was asked if he recalled a single moment when Ray Hamilton stood out as a potential contributor on the University of Iowa football team, he took his time finding an answer. With the type of attitude Hamilton brings to practice every day, it was difficult to pick out one single moment.
"Ray is an eager guy, a great player, and he shows up to work every day and chops wood," said Raih. "It's not one single thing that stands out about him, rather it's his consistency and the way he works every single day. That's a great asset to have."
Hamilton's consistency and strong work ethic is a major reason why the 6-foot-5, 248 pound tight end broke through the depth chart this preseason as a co-No. 2 alongside senior Zach Derby.
He was one of 10 true freshman to see action in 2011, catching one pass for 15 yards against Tennessee Tech. Hamilton attributed players like Derby and junior C.J. Fiedorowicz as players that helped him understand his role as a tight end his freshman season.
"The biggest thing for me is whatever role I have this season, I just want to do a great job at it. It's whatever the team needs from me. I'm going to pride myself on impacting the game when I get called upon and making the most out of my opportunities."
UI sophomore tight end Ray Hamilton
While finding his name on the depth chart may seem like a vote of confidence, Hamilton plans on keeping the attitude that helped get him noticed in the first place.
"Every day I go in to practice, whether I'm listed as the first tight end or the last, I work the same way," said Hamilton. "I don't make much of it (the depth chart) right now. I'm just here to work hard, play hard and really prove myself to my coaches and teammates."
One of the major tasks of first year offensive coordinator Greg Davis has been developing roles to fit the strengths of each player. Davis has a plan in mind for Hamilton, but is leaving his options open this early in fall camp.
"Right now we are playing him more as a true tight end rather than a move guy, but we could look at him in some other categories as camp goes on," said Davis, who coached tight ends Bo Scaife, Jermichael Finley and David Thomas at Texas. "Ray is a guy who brings great strength to the line of scrimmage and great hands."
Fiedorowicz, who is listed at No. 1 on the depth chart and returns the most receiving yards out of any tight end on the roster, also likes what he sees out of Hamilton and is expecting to see Hamilton on the field with himself at times.
"Ray is a really good player. He is a smart kid that works very hard," Fiedorowicz said. "He is coming along, and has a good feel for the offense. I think he will contribute to the offense this season."
Aaron White, a sophomore on the UI men's basketball team, is also looking forward to seeing what Hamilton can do on the gridiron this fall. White and Hamilton were both four-year basketball letterwinners at Strongsville High School. While White suggested it was laughable that Hamilton thinks he's better in basketball, he didn't shy away from praising his former teammate for his football capabilities.
"Once he gets that opportunity to get on the field, you are going to see big things out of him, and hopefully that happens this year," White said. "I'm really looking forward to seeing what he can do."
Hamilton was no stranger at the practice facilities this summer, spending most of his time watching film, catching passes or working out. While others around him may be taking notice of his potential, Hamilton has kept a team-first attitude.
"The biggest thing for me is whatever role I have this season, I just want to do a great job at it," Hamilton said. "It's whatever the team needs from me. I'm going to pride myself on impacting the game when I get called upon and making the most out of my opportunities."