Ciani realizes his Division I dream
Post Independent Staff
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
One of Nick Ciani’s fondest childhood memories is shaking hands with University of Nebraska football players as they passed through the tunnel at Memorial Stadium in Lincoln, a place the youngster frequented often with his family.
While he won’t be playing football for his beloved Cornhuskers, Ciani will don the green and gold of Colorado State University. And he hopes to come full circle and shake hands with football-loving youngsters as a Ram.
“When I was a kid, we’d go where they walk through the tunnel at Nebraska and I got to shake all their hands,” the recent Glenwood Springs High School graduate recalled. “I shook Eric Crouch’s hand. It’s funny. I’ll be walking the tunnel, too.”
Ciani, one of Colorado’s top Class 3A football’s linebackers during his tenure at Glenwood, will walk on at CSU this fall.
“It’s always been a dream of mine to go D-1,” he said. “It’s how the cards fell. I chose CSU because I’ll be most happy there, you know? If I had gone to a school where I wasn’t happy, my schoolwork wouldn’t have been as productive. I wouldn’t have had as much fun.”
Undersized by Division I standards, the fiery linebacker will have to battle his way up through the ranks in Fort Collins. The 6-foot-3, 220-pound Ciani is eager to embrace the challenge.
“I’ll fill in wherever they need me,” he proclaimed. “I’ll probably be a tackling dummy for a little bit.”
Whether that means serving as a scout team linebacker or handling grunt work on special teams, Ciani’s fine with it.
“I think I’ll most likely redshirt this year and be part of the system,” he said. “If I want to do it next year, if I continue to enjoy it, I’ll keep going. I think my best thing is just outlasting people. I think I can go and figure out who can hack and who can’t and, you know, maybe get on the punt team a couple years down the road.”
Glenwood Springs High School assistant Neil Goluba, who worked closely with Ciani as the Demons’ defensive coordinator and linebackers coach the past season, has faith in his former football pupil.
“He played as a sophomore on a state championship defense,” Goluba said. “He’s been a football player from Day 1. He’s a fantastic player. Not only was he a great player, but he was a great leader. He basically had all those things you look for.”
And Ciani knows what it takes to win football games. He played an integral role on the Demons’ 2008 state title-winning team and then helped Glenwood back to the playoffs in 2009 and to the state title game in 2010.
The memories collected during the Demons’ most recent run, which ended with a loss to Elizabeth in the 3A championship game, are particularly special to Ciani.
“I’ll always remember the 2010 team,” he said. “That was really special. No one knew what we were going to do. No one knew what we could accomplish. Those were my best friends. I’ll always remember that season.”
Now it’s off to Fort Collins, where Ciani will create new memories and pursue a dream born years ago at those Nebraska football games.
“Part of it was I just fell in love with Nebraska football,” said Ciani, whose family is rooted to the state of Nebraska. “I loved going to those games. I just fell in love with football, being a boy. I just liked hitting people and raging on people.”
And he’ll continue to do just that at CSU. He’ll just have to shift his allegiance from red to green and gold.
“I was always a Husker fan. I’m a Big Red fan,” Ciani said. “I’m a big CSU fan now. Nebraska always hated CU, so it just kind of ran in together.”
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