HANOVER, Vt. (WCAX) This past Fall, the Dartmouth football team captured the school's record 19th Ivy League title. But it was the first for the Big Green seniors .
"We felt like we had to remember and think back to our roots that freshman year of what we came here for," said defensive end Niko Lalos.
"Senior year to finally put it all together, it was really special for us," added cornerback Isiah Swann.
So with the ultimate goal in Ivy League football accomplished and degrees in hand, it was time to look to the next level .
"Being an NFL player, I've been dreaming of that since I was like 5 years old, since like my very first memory," Swann said.
The NFL dream is very much a reality for Swann and Lalos. Both have signed undrafted free agent deals, Swann with the Cincinnati Bengals and Lalos with the New York Giants .
"I always had the Giants high on my list," Lalos said. "When they called and offered me a spot, I jumped right on the opportunity."
As products of the Ivy League, both Swann and Lalos know they are fighting an uphill battle against not only veterans, but former players in the top division of college football: the Football Bowl Subdivision. But they are confident they can show just how much talent can be found in Division I's Football Championship Subdivision.
"Since the pre-draft process all I hear is, 'Oh, you're Ivy League,'" Swann said. "It definitely puts a chip on my shoulder. I go out there and I just want to show the FBS guys that there is talent 'below' them I guess."
NFL rookies would typically be going through minicamp right about now, but obviously they can't do that in person with the coronavirus. It's a tough situation, but Swann and Lalos are impressed with how their teams are handling it .
"Most of them don't have a teaching background, much less a virtual teaching background," Lalos said. "So I think a lot of them are doing well with this curveball."
"I can still get all the film, the playbook and stuff," Swann added. "You know obviously you want to lineup and do it but this is the best we got."
As for keeping themselves in shape, Swann and Lalos are like most of us, finding ways to do their job as best they can .
"I go to a neighbors house who has a pretty nice in-home gym. It's got a bar bell, squat rack," said Lalos. "Just kind of have to do mental reps and pretend."
And if all goes according to plan, they'll be able to step onto the training camp fields in a couple months...and hopefully the sport's biggest stage in September.