Mentor defensive tackle Nico Lautanen verbally commits to Bowling Green

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MENTOR, Ohio — Nico Lautanen has known for a while where he wanted to play his college football. On Friday, the Mentor defensive tackle made it official by verbally committing to Bowling Green.


“I just absolutely love it there,” Lautanen said. “It’s a football town. It’s where I could see myself going even if I wasn’t playing football.”


Lautanen said he visited Bowling Green about three weeks ago with teammate Eddie Daugherty, and has had the Falcons on the top of his list since then.


The 6-foot-3, 275-pound defensive tackle had other suitors, but the opportunity to contend for playing time immediately helped Bowling Green stand out.


“(Head coach) Dino Babers said they’re only recruiting guys that can play in their freshman year,” Lautanen said. “That was a big factor. I want to play early, I don’t want to wait around.”


The Falcons went 10-4 last season, beating Northern Illinois in the MAC championship game, and losing to Pittsburgh in the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl.


Lautanen, who was First-Team All-District and honorable mention All-Ohio as a junior, said it took him some time to realize he was a Division I-caliber player.


He had 72 tackles and 11 sacks in his junior season.


“If you were to ask me a year ago if I would be playing Division I football, I would think you’re nuts,” Lautanen said. “(Mentor) coach (Steve) Trivisonno really put it in my head, he said, ‘You’re a Division I football player,’ and I soon realized it down the road.”


He also had scholarship offers from the five other Ohio MAC schools, as well as Ball State, UTEP and James Madison.


Bigger schools like Illinois and Minnesota have shown interest as well, but Lautanen was adamant that he found a home at Bowling Green.


“I’m firmly committed,” he said. “Everything is there for me. If a bigger school were to come along, I would still be committed to Bowling Green.”



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