IOWA CITY, Iowa – It’s that time of year again for the list of indispensable Hawkeyes. For the 2017 rundown, I’m going to release my Top 15 via a countdown. Each day I’ll unveil a new player heading to No. 1.
A lot of media outlets weigh in on the most “important” Iowa players before the season. Everyone uses their own criteria.
For me, it’s not only what a given individual brings to the field, but also who’s projected to be behind him. That’s an important piece to the puzzle. That said, sometimes the backup fills in admirably as cornerback Manny Rugamba did last year.
As with most of these lists, they’re open for interpretation and debate. That’s the fun part of compiling them during the dog days of summer.
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NO. 12 – Manny Rugamba, CB
Projected Backup – Cedric Boswell
Why He’s Here: Few fans knew of Rugamba before last year’s Michigan game. After it, folks were excited about his future.
Rugamba stepped in for the injured Greg Mabin in that contest and helped the Hawkeyes pull off one of the country’s biggest upsets of the season. Wolverine receivers couldn’t break free from the true freshman.
With Mabin and all-Big Ten performer Desmond King graduating after last season, Rugamba enters August camp atop the depth chart. Junior Josh Jackson occupies the other island.
Rugamba also was recruited as a receiver during a high school career in which he showed off great hands. That’s what made the Chicago product so attractive to Iowa as a defensive back.
With speed, good hip action and a nose for the pigskin, Rugamba could end up with high interception totals. He’ll also be aided by his hard work in the film room and a high IQ for the game.
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Rugamba has shown no signs of living off the compliments he received from his performance against Michigan. He’s shied away from comparisons to King and has said he wants to make a name for himself.
The Hawkeyes will face a talented group of quarterbacks this season. The unproven corners will be challenged. Rugamba appears ready for it.
Here’s Rugamba intercepting a pass against Michigan last November: