Nick DeCiantis had a dream of a football career in a Hawks uniform, with a freshman championship and three varsity Super Bowl titles to his name at Bishop Hendricken High School.
Last Wednesday, DeCiantis signed on to continue that career in another Hawks uniform. The senior lineman inked a National Letter of Intent to play football for Division II St. Anselm College Hawks in Manchester, N.H.
“It’s a big relief - I know where I’m going now and I’m really happy with it,” DeCiantis said. “I’m very excited and enthusiastic about playing football at St. Anselm.”
DeCiantis, who hails from Johnston, has been a big part of the Hendricken football program throughout his career. At six-foot-three, 308 pounds, he became a cornerstone on a talented offensive line as a junior, helping lead the Hawks to their second straight championship in 2011.
His potential was on display from the beginning, and once he made his way into the starting lineup, he never stopped improving.
“Sometimes, it takes linemen a little longer to develop than the skill guys,” Croft said. “He got better and better every year. He worked hard all off-season. He put the time in. Once he got into the starting lineup, he never left.”
In 2012, he played both ways, manning offensive and defensive tackle spots, as Hendricken won its third consecutive title.
“He brought a lot of leadership and experience this year,” said Hendricken head coach Keith Croft. “He was kind of the rock. Last year, we had some veterans, but this year we knew going in that it was going to be his group. He really ran with that.”
The result was a storybook finish.
“A lot of good memories,” he said. “I’ve had an awesome experience here.”
After football, DeCiantis turned his attention to indoor track, where he’s a throwing stand-out, and to his college search. With size and a proven track record of success, DeCiantis had several options when it came to the next level, but throughout the process, St. Anselm remained one of the best.
“I was looking at a lot of different of schools,” DeCiantis said. “There were a lot of options, but St. Anselm stuck out to me. I really enjoyed what I had seen there and I was excited to join the program.”
St. Anselm brought its football program back from a 58-year hiatus in 1999. The team plays in the Northeast 10 Conference and hasn’t yet established itself as a contender. The Hawks went 2-9 last year, but did rank third in the conference in points per game and fourth in yards per game.
The Hawks have two Rhode Islanders on their roster - former Hendricken running back Mike Flanagan and former La Salle wide receiver Brandon Gomes.
DeCiantis, who’s a strong student, got a scholarship offer last week, and that was the clincher. He sees it as a perfect fit. With family and many of his teammates and coaches on hand Wednesday, he made it official.
“The mix of academics and athletics and the overall feel of the school - I could picture myself there for the next four years,” DeCiantis said.
And his coaches at Hendricken can picture more success.
“I think as long as he continues to do what made him successful at Hendricken - getting in the weight room and working hard - he’ll do great there,” Croft said. “He’s a great program kid - good student, very coachable. The sky’s the limit for him in whatever he does.”
DeCiantis hopes the dream career continues.
“They envision me contributing to the system as much as I can and helping them as much as possible - just going out there and working for it,” he said.