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Illinois corner is commit No. 22 for the Hawkeyes
It is safe to say the Hawkeyes are back in the recruiting game in the state of Illinois.
Naperville Central cornerback Emmanuel Rugamba (6-0, 172) gave the Hawkeyes a yes during a Hawkeye Tailgater event, which included several prospects in Iowa City for a visit. Rugamba picked the Hawkeyes over 14 other offers, including Boston College, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa State and Pitt.
Rugamba is commitment No. 22 for the Hawkeyes in the 2016 class.
You'll see a lot of highlights that show Rugamba as a wide receiver. During a Core 6 Showcase in Chicago this January, Rugamba lit it up as a wide receiver.
'Rugamba destroyed press coverage and blew by defensive backs with his burst and sharp route-running,” Rivals midwest recruiting analyst Josh Helmholdt wrote.
If you look at Iowa's recently released depth chart, you'll notice the Hawkeyes are in really good shape at cornerback, with junior starters Desmond King and Greg Mabin with junior Maurice Fleming and senior Sean Draper behind them. In two seasons, Iowa is going to need a whole new set of corners.
Rugamba sees that and he sees opportunity.
'The way their depth chart is set up at corner, they're going to need guys to be ready in our class, so they see me playing my freshman year on special teams and nickel packages,” Rugamba told HawkeyeReport.com. 'Then, my sophomore year, when Desmond King and all those guys are gone, it will be time for us to step up and be in a starting position. That's why they want me to get my feet wet a little my freshman year and be ready to go my sophomore year.”
That sounds like a plan and it is the plan.
But . . .
'They (Iowa coaches) said they could use me on offense too, but I see a lot more opportunity at corner, so that's what I'm interested in,” Rugamba told HawkeyeReport. So, maybe the plan is a little more flexible, but clearly Iowa needs to start packing away corner prospects.
Naperville Central coach Mike Stine told the Chicago Tribune that Rugamba was one of the most highly recruited athletes from his program.
'Manny is a fantastic athlete and a very hard worker,” Stine told the Tribune. 'He's a leader with high goals and expectations. He has the ability to play either side of the ball at the next level.”
Rugamba is the fifth Illinois athlete to pick Iowa. He joins Phillips linebacker Amani Jones, Crystal Lake Central defensive end Romeo McKnight, Niles North running back Barrington Wade and Sycamore linebacker Nick Niemann.
If Iowa lands all five - it's a long way to Feb. 3, when the national signing period begins - it will be the most Illinois recruits for the Hawkeyes since it signed six in 2012. In the last three classes, Iowa has signed just two, one and three Illinois preps, respectively.
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