While NFL Europe’s Rhein Fire is 0-4 going into this weekend’s matchup with the Frankfurt Galaxy, there is still something for Redskins fans to cheer about; running back Dahrran Diedrick.
Diedrick has teamed up with Titans’ running back Joe Smith to provide the Fire with a rushing attack that averages over 100 yards per game. While the team on the whole has played well, it has yet to translate into a win this season.
“We’re 0-4, but we’ve been playing hard in these games, we’re just having a tough time being able to pull it out”, Diedrick said.
The Fire played their best game last week against the Berlin Thunder. Leading 21-14 going into the fourth quarter, the Fire’s players and fans could taste the victory. That taste turned sour when, with some help from a face mask penalty and a late interception, the Thunder put up 16 points in the fourth quarter.
“We just need to believe because last week that was a tough loss for us”, Diedrick noted. “We really were winning the entire game from the start and then to lose in the last minute that was a heartbreaker.”
No matter what happens with the remainder of the Fire's season, Diedrick is just happy to be playing football. “If I wasn’t over here, I’d just be running, lifting weights, not really doing stuff for football you know. To be over here, the workout I’m getting is football, so this is just making me better. I’m over here, I’m staying in shape but it’s like I’m staying in football shape, so when I get into camp, I should be in better football shape then a lot of guys. Hopefully that will be able to help me.”
Along with being on the field, Dahrran is also happy to get the opportunity to be so in Europe.
“That’s one of the reasons I wanted to come over here,” Diedrick told THN. “I probably never would have had the opportunity to go to Europe otherwise.”
Traveling is nothing new to Diedrick. Born in St Anne’s, Jamaica, Diedrick moved to Canada at the age of twelve. At Cedarbrae Collegiate Institute in Scarborough, Ontario, Diedrick set a provincial rushing record gaining 1866 yards in just nine games, including an astonishing 311 yards in one game on just eleven carries.
As impressive as those numbers were, playing in Canada meant the 6’0”, 225-pound running back had to sell himself to American colleges. Diedrick made his own highlight videos and handed them out to representatives from schools throughout the country, including Michigan, Ohio State, Syracuse and of course, Nebraska. Diedrick had to work hard to get his scholarship to Nebraska, the first Canadian to do so. Hard work is something Diedrick prides himself in.
“I’ve just always had it instilled in me that you have to work extra hard and you know, I’m real thankful for my coaches in high school for putting that in me. I always feel like I’ve got to work harder than the other person. That’s just what I feel everybody should do. Irving Fryar went to Nebraska, and he came there and told us that hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard, and I’ve always tried to live by that.”
His first two years at Nebraska, Diedrick didn’t see much playing time. Being behind Correll Buckhalter and Dan Alexander, Dahrran only got 90 carries. His senior season however, Diedrick turned in one of the best rushing performances in Cornhusker history, putting up 1,299 yards including 6 touchdowns en route to the National Championship game. He finished his collegiate career with 2,745 yards on 502 carries, putting him eighth on Nebraska’s all-time rushing list. But that’s not all Diedrick got at Nebraska.
Dahrran Diedrick earned his bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice, and with a year of eligibility left coming off of a loss in the National Championship game, he decided to stay in school for another championship run. Instead of taking easy classes just to maintain academic eligibility, Diedrick decided to start on a Master’s degree in Public Administration.
When asked why education was so important, Diedrick said: “I know I’m going to need it. I had a mentor when I was in Nebraska starting off when I first got there, and he really was just telling me that you are probably going to play football until you are no older than 34 maybe. You’re still a young man after that and he’s right. A 35-year old isn’t old, he’s still a young man and you are going to have to be able to do something else other than football. You won’t be able to rely on that anymore.”
After college, the San Diego Chargers signed Diedrick as an undrafted rookie free agent. Released prior to the regular season, he spent most of 2003 on the Green Bay practice squad. In 2004, Diedrick spent training camp with the Packers, before being released and signing with the Redskins. The three teams Diedrick has played for gave him the opportunity to play with three of the games best backs in San Diego’s LaDainian Tomlinson, Green Bay’s Ahman Green and now Washington’s Clinton Portis.
Diedrick said of the experience: “I always watched film of other running backs to see things that I could put into my game, but starting off with LaDainian and Ahman and now with Clinton Portis, I see things they do well, and if it works with something that I do, if it works for them then it works for me, cause those guys are in a great position.”
Diedrick spent most of last season on the Redskins’ practice squad, before seeing some special teams action in the final game of the 2004 season against Minnesota. With the added experience of a full NFL-Europe season with the Rhein Fire, Dahrran Diedrick will hopefully get the chance he has worked hard his whole life for, the chance to be an NFL running back with the Washington Redskins.
Scott Hurrey is a Senior Writer for www.theHogs.net. Scott can be contacted via email at JansenFan@theHogs.net.