Diehl Making an Impression on Defenders


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Chad Diehl leading the way for James Davis against USC.
Chad Diehl leading the way for James Davis against USC.

CLEMSON -- Chad Diehl certainly made an impression on the South Carolina Gamecocks.

Diehl, the redshirt freshman fullback for the Clemson Tigers, played a career-high 33 snaps against the Gamecocks, and was frequently seen knocking opposing defenders backwards as the Tigers were able to run the ball and control the clock in their 31-14 win last month.

Speak to Diehl's teammates, and the words "nasty" and "beast" and "ferocious" come out, but talk to Diehl, and you get the impression that he is the worst player on the team and hoping to just keep his scholarship.

"I guess I am just like an extra blocker, I don't really see myself as having too big of an impact on the game," Diehl said after a recent Gator Bowl practice. "We have some good running backs, and they could make good runs without me in front of them. I think I still have a lot of work to do, because people in practice can beat me and people we play against in games can beat me."

However, talk to Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney, and you get a little different idea about Diehl and what he brings to the table.

"When you think of Chad, you think of toughness, of being physical," Swinney. "He is the guy that they run from (at practice). When a fight breaks out, you want Chad with you, I promise you. When it is third-and-one, and we have to get the tough yards, we want him on the field. I don't know if I've ever seen a guy more physical than him.

"He unloads on people, and I am talking he does it every single time. We are still trying to turn him into a complete player, because he played guard and linebacker (in high school). So he is still learning some route running and trying to get consistent catching the ball. But he will get there. In drills, they count up the line to see who is up next, and they run away from him."

Diehl has yet to carry the ball in a game, and has caught one pass (a six-yarder against The Citadel this season), but looks forward to being a part of the game plan when Clemson plays Nebraska in the Gator Bowl and even next season.

"I guess it's up in the air right now, so we'll have to see how it works out," Diehl said. "We'll have to see how the weather is, and if it's better to have the fullback in there or not. If we can do better by throwing the football, then that is what we should do."

And on if he would like the chance to carry the ball or catch more next season, he says, "I am not sure if that is ever going to happen. I have a lot to work on in practice before we can do that in a game."

Diehl did say that he enjoyed every minute of his time out on the field against the arch-rivals, and was able to get into the flow of the game, which may have helped his performance.

"We started running the ball kind of early, and it worked out, so we kept running the ball," he said. "A lot of people say it's harder to run when it's wet, but I think it's easier. It was a lot of fun. It's a lot better when you get to play a few plays in a row, rather than go one of every 10 plays. When you do that, it's hard to get used to the game and get used to the defense you're running against."

Now it is the Cornhuskers' turn to learn a little bit about Chad Diehl.

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