Why Iowa’s Manny Rugamba stays at cornerback
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@ScottDochterman, Manny Rugamba was a very productive receiver in high school. Any discussion of having him playing a role on the offensive side of the ball?
— Jay Zieglowsky (@JayZieglowsky) March 30, 2018
ANSWER: Iowa junior defensive back Manny Rugamba was one of many two-way athletes to make their way to Iowa City. Rugamba was dynamic at wide receiver for Naperville (Ill.) Central, catching 112 passes for 1,615 yards and 11 touchdowns as a senior.
Rugamba (5-foot-11, 193 pounds) had his choice for which side of the ball he wanted to play, and he picked defense in 2016. The main factor was both Desmond King and Greg Mabin were seniors that season and Rugamba would compete for a snaps that season and become a starter in 2017. Rugamba worked his way up to third corner in 2016 and was named co-Big Ten freshman of the week honors in a 14-13 upset of No. 3 Michigan. He intercepted a pass in the fourth quarter, broke up another in the fourth quarter and defended a pass in the end zone that prevented a touchdown. He ended up starting the final three regular-season games.
It appeared Rugamba was set to replace Desmond King as Iowa’s next great cornerback. But Rugamba was suspended for the 2017 season opener, suffered a high-ankle sprain in the fourth game and never really recovered. He’s now listed as a second-team cornerback in spring practice.
It’s unlikely at this stage of his career for Rugamba to move to offense. He remains competitive for a starting role this season, and it’s way too early to rule him out. Even if he doesn’t start, he’ll play plenty of snaps as a nickel corner or on special teams. Rugamba probably could do some damage as a receiver, but Iowa was in way worse shape there in 2016, when it it would have made sense to move him there.
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