Aug. 11, 2011
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.
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- All the while Ray Hamilton was growing into his athletic, 6-foot-5, 235-pound frame, he was exploring what position to pursue at the "next level" on collegiate football fields.
About the time the two-sport star entered Strongsville (Ohio) High School, he had decided that his future was at tight end. So, he studied the best tight ends in the country and his eyes kept coming back to No. 81 for the University of Iowa Hawkeyes -- Tony Moeaki.
"Tony was a great tight end since day one when he got here," Hamilton said. "He has a great football IQ and you could really see that on the field and he does all the things that you need to do in order to become a great tight end."
Moeaki caught 70 passes and 11 touchdowns for the Hawkeyes from 2005-09; in his rookie season in the NFL with Kansas City, Moeaki hauled in 47 passes and three scores.
That's a lot of games and catches for Moeaki; Hamilton, a freshman, is just getting his feet wet in the tight end-friendly Hawkeye system.
"They make you block, they make you catch," Hamilton said of learning the UI playbook. "There are certain schools out there that are going to make you just a receiving tight end and there are certain schools out there that want you to be a blocking tight end. But at Iowa, they want you to be able to do both."
The school's track record of producing professional tight ends is impressive: Scott Chandler, Dallas Clark, Moeaki, Brandon Myers and Allen Reisner are all in the NFL. The Hawkeyes appear loaded at the position this fall as well with letterwinners Brad Herman, C.J. Fiedorowicz and Zach Derby, and newcomers Hamilton, Jake Duzey and Henry Krieger-Coble.
"I'm working on all parts of the offense and it starts with meetings," Hamilton said. "I'm sitting with Jake and Henry and we're all pitching in little stuff and seeing what we know and if we can help the other guys out. Coach (Eric) Johnson has been doing a great job and the older guys are doing a great job teaching us."
Hamilton was a four-year lettermen in football and basketball in high school. He caught 119 passes for 1,189 yards and 23 touchdowns at Strongsville High and participated in the Offense-Defense All-American Bowl in Myrtle Beach, S.C. A three-time academic all-conference selection, Hamilton intends to pursue a degree in a business field.
He took his official visit to Iowa City when the Hawkeyes hosted his home-state Ohio State Buckeyes on Nov. 20. If his mind wasn't made up before, that trip sealed the decision.
"The coaching staff is by far the best in the country, along with the strength staff," Hamilton said. "I visited a lot of schools and I have great respect for all those schools I visited, but Iowa stood out to me. Once I came here it had the atmosphere I was looking for -- that home feel -- and you can't ask for anything better than the people from Iowa."
Iowa has completed seven of the 18 practices scheduled for preseason camp. On Tuesday, the Hawkeyes trained inside Kinnick Stadium, something Hamilton said gave him chills.
"It was awesome. Stepping on that field, you know you have to work your hardest," Hamilton said. "I have a lot to prove and so does everybody else out here; that's why we're working as hard as we are. We're all working for one goal and we're working hard to do it."