Future On Hold For NFL Hopeful Greg Niland - UMass Athletics

Future On Hold For NFL Hopeful Greg Niland

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In a typical NFL year, East Bridgewater's Greg Niland might have signed with a team by now, might be packing to spend the upcoming weekend at a rookie orientation minicamp.

But rather than a helmet and shorts, Niland will don a cap and gown this Friday, graduating from Northeastern University in ceremonies at the TD Garden.

"In a normal year, we'd be in a (rookie orientation) camp this week and I'd have potentially missed graduation," said Niland. "All I can do is stay in shape and hopefully I'll know where I'm headed soon."

A victim of the NFL's labor pains, Niland's football future is on hold in what is anything but a normal year.

Read more: http://www.tauntongazette.com/sprots/local_sports/x294378026/Football-future-on-hold-for-East-Bridgewater-s-Greg-Niland#ixzz1LO4lc7ca

Football future on hold for East Bridgewater's Greg Niland

In a typical NFL year, East Bridgewater's Greg Niland might have signed with a team by now, might be packing to spend the upcoming weekend at a rookie orientation minicamp.


But rather than a helmet and shorts, Niland will don a cap and gown this Friday, graduating from Northeastern University in ceremonies at the TD Garden.

"In a normal year, we'd be in a (rookie orientation) camp this week and I'd have potentially missed graduation," said Niland. "All I can do is stay in shape and hopefully I'll know where I'm headed soon."

A victim of the NFL's labor pains, Niland's football future is on hold in what is anything but a normal year.

"It's frustrating," the 6-foot-5, 305-pound offensive lineman admitted on Monday, "but it's out of my hands. In a normal year, I'd know what direction I was headed in, know what I was going to do. But there are a lot of good players out there waiting."

He spent his Saturday like many other Bostonians, remote control in hand, the television channel alternating between the final day of the NFL draft and the first game of the NHL playoff series between the Bruins and the Philadelphia Flyers.

"Absolutely, I was watching (the draft)," said Niland, who in addition to being a two-way lineman and outdoor track athlete was an imposing defenseman back in his days at Coyle-Cassidy High School. "I was going back and forth between the draft and the Bruins game. That was a good win by them."

As for the draft, well, that result wasn't unanticipated: Niland, who played three years at left tackle at Northeastern and concluded his career at left guard at the University of Massachusetts when the Huskies abolished their football program at the end of the 2009 season, did not have his name called late in the draft.

With the Houston Texans' tabbing of this year's "Mr. Irrelevant" -- Rice defensive end Cheta Ozougwu was the draft's 254th and last choice -- Niland and hundreds of others became, in effect, inactive.

With the ongoing lockout, NFL teams are prohibited from signing rookie free agents, a process that normally occurs at the conclusion of the draft.

"Now," said Niland, "I'm just waiting to see what happens. They've granted the owners a temporary stay. Like a lot of other people, I'm just waiting to see if that's extended."

Under the heading of "misery loves company," Niland has remained in contact with college teammates who are in the same predicament as he is.

"(Tailback) John Griffin, who went from Northeastern to UMass like I did, is in the same boat," said Niland. "He thought he'd be a late-round pick or a free agent. He's waiting. So is (defensive end) David Akinniyi, who went (from Northeastern) to North Carolina State and started."

The effects of the ongoing lockout will likely extend beyond the here and now as rookie free agents will have less time to make positive impressions during offseason minicamps, further increasing the importance of their work in training camp.

"You'll have to go in and impress people right away. That's going to be tough," said Niland. "Hopefully, this will be over as quickly as possible."

To this point, Niland hasn't considered an option like the UFL, holding out hope that his agent Jack Huntington, of the Tewksbury-based Reliance Sports Management will be talking with an NFL team at some point soon.

"My agent's talked to teams, getting my name out there," said Niland. "I know I was on a lot of teams' (draft) boards."

"To be honest with you, I haven't thought about (the UFL). Right now, it's wait and see. I just want a shot somewhere. That would be an awesome opportunity."



Read more: http://www.tauntongazette.com/sprots/local_sports/x294378026/Football-future-on-hold-for-East-Bridgewater-s-Greg-Niland#ixzz1LO4vEeL3

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