It’s not the size of the school that always puts you on the Draft radar.
It’s the size of the play ... in big moments ... and Niko Lalos was huge at tiny Dartmouth College, racking up 5.5 sacks and 10 tackles for loss as a senior, and earning All Ivy-League honors in the process.
The former St. Vincent-St. Mary star topped that by being the Hula Bowl MVP.
He had a ton of momentum heading into the scouting process. And then it came to a halt.
“It’s been pretty tough,” Lalos said. “I had a few private workouts line up, and then those guys cancelled. The pro day was next to be cancelled. Then I also had a local day scheduled with the Browns, and they obviously had to drop that. So, it’s been pretty tough.”
So, his tape will have to do the talking. A tape that looks like his boyhood idol, J.J. Watt. Although lately he’s been compared to a couple of other defensive ends you know and love.
“A lot of people compare me to the Bosa Brothers (Joey and Nick, former Ohio State standouts),” Lalos says. “Definitely not something to be mad about. They’re definitely two really great players.”
Lalos may not have played at Ohio State, but he did play for an innovative coach, Buddy Teevens, who uses robotic tackling dummies at Dartmouth. To cut down on concussions, not coronavirus. Still, pretty ironic, in this day and age of limited human contact, that Lalos practiced like that.
“He’s (Teevens) kind of always been ahead of the game,” Lalos says. “It’d be crazy to say he built those for this kind of moment, but it definitely fits the scripts.”
And now it's Niko's time to write his. He doesn't know when, or even if, he'll go in the Draft. But he'll land somewhere.
“When, I don’t know,” says Lalos. "Second day, third day ... I’ll just be happy to have my dream come true.
“This is my calling.”