(Photo Courtesy of Culver Lacrosse)
Brian Holman and the Utah Utes got some good news on Saturday, as Culver, Ind., defenseman Nikko DiPonio announced that he would be taking his talents to Salt Lake City in a few years.
A Michigan native, DiPonio is the 10th commitment in the class of 2022 for the Utes and the third on the defensive side of the ball, alongside The Rivers School, Mass., LSM Will Potter and Vandergrift, Texas, defenseman Ryan Shepard.
The promise of what could be at Utah, which enters their third season as a DI program this spring, was a major factor in DiPonio’s decision to commit to the only men’s lacrosse-playing Pac-12 school.
“Being a new program, I think Utah has an incredible amount of hope for the future.,” DiPonio told Lacrosse Bucket. “The coaching staff, in my opinion, is among the very best in the country and I see the program being top 25 by the time I arrive on campus. I am excited to hopefully contribute to writing the future of Utah lacrosse.”
The Utes initially made contact with the defenseman on September 1st, which was the first day that college coaches could contact 2022 recruits. While DiPonio has not been able to get out to Salt Lake City and see campus for himself yet, he said that he has taken multiple virtual tours, stating it was “unreal.”
Having seen DiPonio in both of their two games during the shortened 2020 season, he is one of those poles that just seems to be everywhere at once. The junior is a great cover guy and knows how to put the ball on the ground. He also has good instincts as an off-ball guy and has some offensive prowessness to his game, being comfortable and able to make an impact in transition and on the offensive end of the field.
Rated as a three-star by Inside Lacrosse, DiPonio said that he wants to really focus on his one-on-one defense and transition work this spring. “I am focusing this season on my one-on-one defense, as well as being able to push the ball up the field in transition and create quick offense.” He also stated that he wants to get his weight up to 185 and improving his speed before he gets to the next level.
Coming into his junior season, which will be his second at Culver, DiPonio said his main goal is to help lead the Eagles to a national title, which would be their second in as many full seasons and first under first-year head coach Jon Birsner.