A year ago, Calvin Dassow was coming into a new starting role on the Hamilton offensive line and was a relative unknown to those outside the football program. As the season went on, Dassow’s star rose. Now, the senior, who is listed at 6-foot-7, 310 pounds, has attracted much college interest and so far has garnered nine scholarship offers.

In early June, Dassow received his seventh scholarship offer from Northern Illinois University. A week later, he gave a verbal commitment to join the Huskies.

But before he heads off to college, Dassow will try and help HHS improve on its 3-6 record from a year ago. Dassow supports a massive frame but believes the line as a whole will be smaller than other teams.

“I think we’re going to be a tad small this year on offense, but that just means everybody needs to work harder,” Dassow said. “Size doesn’t mean everything in the backfield or on the team, really. We have to compensate for that with harder work, and we just need to get better and reach the potential as a player.”

Two losses in 2015 came by seven points or fewer, including a heartbreaking 13-10 defeat against Menomonee Falls.

“Those losses that were very close, they sting,” Dassow said. “There’s ways in how we want to get better. … The (losses from last season) will definitely drive us to be a better team. I think the big thing is working through adversity during the season. If we’re down, we have to keep on grinding and working through it.”

Dassow already has a grind-and-work concept ingrained in his blocking style.

“I feel like if I don’t end the play in a pancake block; it’s sort of unsatisfying to me,” Dassow said. “That’s my biggest strength, is the toughness. I want to get better throughout the season.”

One of the most intriguing aspects of Dassow's development has been his size. As a sophomore, Dassow weighed 230 pounds and went up to 300 as a junior. In his senior year, he'll weigh in at around 310, but it also suits his physical style and body type.

“Not that I was out of shape, but it was readjusting to the (heavier) weight and how to move that weight,” Dassow said. “For the first three weeks of training in the offseason, I got used to the weight I was at and then kept getting better with the weight I’m at right now.”

Dassow has also improved greatly in his development as a football player.

“There is no other athlete that I have coached that has developed more than Cal,” Chargers coach John Damato said. “He was a below-average athlete who was very limited his freshman year. His work ethic and his desire to succeed are second to none and I can count on one hand the offseason workouts he has missed. He has bought into our strength and conditioning program and has followed the blueprint for success. He will walk away with peace of mind, knowing he reached his full potential. He has been a tremendous role model for his teammates and has embraced the process. Any teammate or parent should take a page out of his book.”

With his hard work, Dassow will have other opportunities as a football player and a student.

“The game of football has opened a lot of doors for me,” Dassow said. “Knowing people who can’t play football and how much I really enjoy football, that just makes me want to continue to get better in the game.”

Not taking anything for granted has gotten Dassow this far in football, but the senior also excels in the classroom. Dassow enjoys math and science classes and holds a grade-point average of 4.03. At Northern Illinois, Dassow hopes to pursue pre-med.

“You can expect Cal to play hard each and every day,” Damato said. “He has tremendous work ethic, and this will never change. He will always show up ready to give his best effort.”