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How 2 friends from Ohio wound up playing different sports at Iowa

[ 0 ] August 12, 2013 |

IOWA CITY, Ia. – Ray Hamilton had plenty of offers to play college football. UCLA, Florida State, Iowa, and North Carolina were his finalists.

In July of 2010, the tight end and senior-to-be from Strongsville, Ohio, made up his mind. The first person he told was one of his best friends, Aaron White.

“We were sitting on my couch one day, and I had probably made up my mind an hour before,” Hamilton said. “And I said, “I’m going to Iowa.’ He said, ‘Wow, really? Are you sure?’ I said, ‘Yea, I’m positive. It’s the right place for me.’ ”

Jump ahead to October of 2010. The two were playing an Xbox game in White’s bedroom. Aaron got a phone call from Iowa assistant basketball coach Sherm Dillard, offering him a scholarship.

“At that time we really hadn’t talked about going to the same school,” White said. “That was the first time we realized we could go to the same college together.”

White, who also had offers from Duquesne, Boston College and St. Bonaventure, picked the Hawkeyes.

“He said, “Hey, man, I’m coming with you to Iowa,’ ” Hamilton said. “We were both pretty excited. It was pretty cool the way it all worked out. There’s not a lot of times two best friends get to live their dreams together, and play in the Big Ten.”

White, a 6-foot-8 forward, made an immediate impact as a freshman, and has helped revive a dormant basketball program in his two seasons at Iowa.

“It’s just been great to watch him develop,” Hamilton said. “He’s really come a long way.”

The 6-5, 252-pound Hamilton, listed as the No. 2 tight end, has seen limited duty so far but is poised for a breakthrough season in 2013.

“I’m proud of him in the fact that he’s been patient, and he realizes he had to wait his turn,” White said. “Football is a different sport in that regard.He’s been doing a great job with that. I know he’s second on the depth chart this year, and I hope he does big things.”

Tight end is expected to be a position of strength for the Hawkeyes this fall. Hamilton, listed behind C.J. Fiedorowicz, was one of 10 true freshmen to see the field in 2011. But he knew it would take some time to get serious time on the field.

“When I committed here I knew the depth chart,” Hamilton said. “I knew the challenges. That’s part of the reason I picked Iowa. I wanted the competition. That competition will make me better, and ultimately help me reach my goal of playing in the NFL.”

White and Hamilton were teammates as far back as the third grade, playing basketball and football together. White’s football career was short-lived, but the two were basketball teammates all the way through high school. They were both varsity starters as freshmen.

“I still like to think I’m better at basketball than him,” Hamilton said. “We’ll leave it at that.”

White said Hamilton was a good basketball player.

“He was physical,” White said. “A great rebounder. Good passer. Couldn’t shoot free throws.”

As seniors, Strongsville upset top-ranked Garfield Heights in overtime. White had 36 points. Hamilton had 18 rebounds.

“I saw him take over a couple of games our senior year,” Hamilton said.

White said that he’s never had to encourage Hamilton to keep his head up while waiting for his turn at Iowa.

“He’s always been a confident kid in his abilities,” White said. “He’s never had any doubts about his decision to come here, or doubts in his ability to play tight end at this level. I love it when he gets in. I just hope they throw more balls to him and he starts producing the way he wants to.”

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Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football

About Rick Brown: Rick Brown covers men's basketball for The Des Moines Register and Hawk Central. He's married and the father of two. He also covers golf for the Register. View author profile.

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