Niang still a force
Published 5:44 pm, Thursday, February 1, 2018
FORT WORTH, TEXAS—It’s no surprise to anyone that saw him play at New Canaan High School that Lucas Niang would thrive at the next level.
What may be a surprise however, is the magnitude in which he’s made that jump.
Last year, as a true sophomore at Texas Christian University, Niang established himself as one of the top right tackles in the country.
“I knew I had to put in a lot of work coming into the season,” Niang said. “Because with the people graduating I knew I’d have to play.”
Niang didn’t just play, he dominated.
In 301 snaps, Niang didn’t allow so much as a quarterback hit, never mind a sack.
“I had no idea until someone showed me,” Niang said of the feat. “I was just playing football, trying to do my job and help my team.”
In his high school days at New Canaan, Niang featured as a left tackle, but at TCU he plays on the right side.
Just getting acclimated to the other side of the center took some time.
“It took me a little longer because I’m so used to the other side,” Niang said. “It’s a comfort thing—getting comfortable in the right side of the stance and once I got that I was fine.”
Besides the stance, responsibilities also change with the new position.
While the left side has a pass-block first responsibility, the right focuses more on run-blocking. In the offseason, that’s where his focus is.
“That’s still probably my number one priority,” Niang said. “I still have to do a better job run blocking.”
New Canaan coach Lou Marinelli had a chance to go see him play this season against West Virginia.
Marinelli knows what Niang is capable of, but he was still wowed to see it in person.
“It was impressive, he’s really grown up a lot,” Marinelli said. “It was fun to see some time with him and see him, he’s got a lot of potential.”
While Marinelli is a legend in Connecticut, his lore as a coach can grow even more if he’s able to get a player to the NFL.
Something he may have two chances at after next season between Niang (if he opts to forego his senior year) and Zach Allen (Boston College).
“All these years, I’ve had guys get close, but they always get cut,” Marinelli said. “So, I’m hoping both of these guys can do it. I think they can, they’re both great kids, they both love football.”
While the NFL may seem within reach, it’s not something Niang is concerning himself with just yet.
“Just work, don’t take my foot off the gas,” Niang said of his preparation for the offseason. “Just because I played one year and did alright, I have to keep working and keep getting better every day.”