Hamilton hopes to be next tight end star


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Ray Hamilton wants to the best at everything he does.


“Anything I do, whether we’re sitting at home playing a video game, competing in school, anything — my competitive nature is high as it can be,” he said.

The 6-5, 230-pound tight end from Strongsville, Ohio, will have ample opportunity to demonstrate that thirst for competition when he becomes a Hawkeye. With six players already on Iowa’s roster at the same position — and two more joining Hamilton in the 2011 recruiting class — there will be plenty of chances to compete.

Hamilton had plenty of other choices for college. Ranked the eighth best tight end nationally in his class, Hamilton collected no less than 30 offers, including from Stanford, North Carolina, Michigan, and Florida State. Many of those schools also offered a better chance at more immediate playing time.

It won’t be the first time Hamilton has competed for a spot. As a freshman, he beat out a junior and a senior to claim the starting tight end spot at Strongsville High.

“He’s not afraid to mingle and get after it and fight for a job,” Strongsville head coach Russ Jacques said. “Since [his freshman year], he’s been a kind of guy that’s accepted every challenge, and I don’t see that being any different when he goes off to college.”

Hamilton is well aware his next position battle will be much more difficult. The likes of Brad Herman, Zach Derby, and C.J. Fiedorowicz — perhaps the most highly touted recruit from Iowa’s 2010 crop — all await.

“Some people may say it’s a bigger challenge to go somewhere where I may have to play behind some guys for a year or two,” Hamilton said. “If you want to be the best at your position, you’re going to have to beat out the best. They’re going to recruit guys after me, and they’re going to want to beat me out.”

Because Iowa typically likes to rotate three to four tight ends at any point in a game, hawkeyereport.com’s Tom Kakert said there’s a good chance Hamilton will see some time on the field as a true freshman. If he earns that distinction, there’s a good chance it may be because of his intangibles rather than his physical attributes.

Ask Hamilton what his strengths are, and the answer might surprise you.

“A lot of guys talk about how they can run fast and catch. I like to talk about leadership,” said Hamilton, who captained his football team his final two seasons and currently serves as captain for Strongsville’s basketball team as well. “That’s something I pride myself on. Being able to let somebody know when he’s right or wrong or help out, or just show it on the field.”

Jacques described the effect of Hamilton’s leadership in simple terms.

“He makes other people play better. That’s what he does.”

Just because Hamilton has viewed himself — and asserted himself — as a leader for most of his high-school career, doesn’t mean he doesn’t have a leader he looks up to, though.

He met former Hawkeye and current Kansas City Chief tight end Tony Moeaki last spring. Hamilton called watching Moeaki play “a treat.”

And like Moeaki, Hamilton said he and the rest of Iowa’s tight ends “all want to be the next sent to the NFL.”

“I think everyone is aware of the legacy of the tight ends at Iowa,” Hamilton said. “To carry on the tradition is something I look forward to working at every day.”

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