Tuesday Quotebook: Ragaini Appreciates Any Jersey He's Wearing

John Bohnenkamp

IOWA CITY — Nico Ragaini grew up in Connecticut, which isn't exactly a college football hotbed.

"I was never a big fan of any team growing up," the Iowa wide receiver said on Tuesday. "Like, everybody here grew up a Hawkeye fan. I didn't have anyone like that growing up."

Not even home-state UConn caught his eye.

"A lot of people are UConn fans, but I didn't have that growing up," said Ragaini, who is from East Haven, Conn. "I wasn't really recruited by them, so my love for them didn't really grow through the recruiting process.

"So, I'm here and I'm a diehard Hawkeye fan now."

Ragaini is a fan of the gold uniforms the Hawkeyes will be wearing in Saturday's night game against Penn State at Kinnick Stadium, although he understands there are more important things to worry about, considering it is a Big Ten game against a top-10 opponent.

"Yeah, they're pretty awesome," he said. "Should be pretty cool, should be awesome. Can't focus on that, you have to focus in on the opponent. They're a great team.

"To be honest, it isn't like a big thing in my head as well. I'm just really grateful to come here to play, no matter what jersey they're giving me.  If they gave me a pink jersey or a green jersey or whatever, I'd be psyched to go put it on and play in front of all of these people. That's truly how I feel. The jerseys are cool — I can't lie about that, and it does add a little juice."

One loss doesn't define a season

Saturday's 10-3 defeat at Michigan was Iowa's first loss of the season, but Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said it wasn't time to worry.

 "If you look at any of our really successful seasons, outside of (2015) or (2009), we experienced some turbulence, either in September or October, but we had the right answer moving forward," Ferentz said. "In 2003, we had a couple bumps along the way but we kept getting back up and going back to work. That's why I say, you play out the whole season. Don't panic after one game, or don't have a party, either. It's all about running the race well, and we have 12 laps we have to run and we'll assess everything at the end.

"You know, biggest thing we need to be doing right now is just worrying about this Saturday. That's the only thing that really counts for us. That's the only thing that we can really have any production on, so that's kind of where we need to be thinking."

About the tight ends

Iowa tight ends T.J. Hockenson and Noah Fant went in the first round of the NFL draft last spring.

This season, the Hawkeyes have just six pass completions to tight ends — four to Shaun Beyer and two to Nate Wieting.

Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz isn't concerned about the lack of catches from the position group.

"Won't hurt, but it's not going to ruin our day if it happens or not happens," he said. "It's great to have good balance, certainly. We haven't had a lot of production this year but we've been moving the ball and scoring points. I don't think it's critical but I think it would be helpful."

Injury update

Ferentz expects defensive tackle Brady Reiff, out since the second game of the season with a knee injury, to play. Cornerback Matt Hankins is also a possibility to play as well.

"Brady Reiff has practiced, started practicing last week, so I think he should be ready to go this week," Ferentz said. "Hankins was able to jump in and start working yesterday so we'll see how the week goes with him but I think he has a chance to be available, so we'll see where that all goes."

Hankins has played in two games this season, with four tackles and two pass breakups.

Condolences for Mitchell

Ferentz said he was sad to hear of the news of the death of former Hawkeye running back Derrick Mitchell.

Mitchell, 24, died early Tuesday of injuries suffered in a car accident last Friday in St. Louis.

Mitchell played at Iowa from 2014-2016, redshirting in the 2013 season. He transferred before the 2017 season, playing at Incarnate Word after originally announcing he was going to Texas Tech.

"You knew that was a tough circumstance," Ferentz said of the accident. "So it's just a very tough thing, and way too young for something like that to happen. Certainly our condolences with his entire family and just a sad thing to relay."