Former Nebraska Cornhuskers star running back Dahrran Diedrick, who had a long and successful career in the Canadian Football League, died Saturday after a battle with cancer.
Diedrick was 44 years old. He helped lead the Montreal Alouettes to a pair of Gray Cups during his 10-year CFL career. The team confirmed the death through Diedrick’s family.
Former Alouettes quarterback Anthony Calvillo, who currently works on the team’s coaching staff, said his former teammate is leaving «too young.»
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«I won two championships with Dahrran, and he was a very important part of our team,» Calvillo, who played with Diedrick for eight seasons in Montreal, said in a statement. «He was always in a good mood and got along with everyone in our locker room. He leaves us too young.»
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The 6-foot, 225-pound Diedrick was born in Jamaica and grew up in Toronto. He later became Nebraska’s first recruit from Canada to play in Lincoln, Nebraska.
He had a breakout season for the Cornhuskers in 2001 when he rushed for 1,299 yards, which led the Big 12 Conference. He also scored 15 touchdowns that season.
Diedrick was a key part of Nebraska’s run to the national championship game during the 2001 season. Nebraska was ultimately defeated by the Miami Hurricanes in the Rose Bowl. He finished his college football career with 2,745 rushing yards on 502 carries with 26 touchdowns.
«It’s really sad,» former Nebraska coach Frank Solich said. «Great guy. Big heart in everything he did. I enjoyed being around him, I enjoyed coaching him and I think the players enjoyed being around him. He was a warrior.
«The perfect I-back to have a fullback in front of you. You could run I formation all day in that combination. He was a true I formation back. He would give you everything he had.»
Diedrick was selected in the third round of the 2002 CFL draft, but ultimately decided to return to school. He later signed a contract with the Chargers as an undrafted free agent. He also had one season with the Green Bay Packers, appearing in preseason games. He played in one NFL regular season game with Washington in 2004.
After a season with the CFL’s Hamilton Tiger-Cats in 2013, Diedrick returned to the Alouettes for his final season in 2014. During the 2014 season he was diagnosed with hepatosplenic gamma-delta T-cell lymphoma, an aggressive form of the disease.
«We are saddened to learn of the passing of former Alouettes running back Dahrran Diedrick. Our deepest condolences to Dahrran’s family, friends and former teammate,» the Alouettes wrote in a tribute to the former running back.
CFL Commissioner Randy Ambrosie also shared his condolences.
«Our thoughts and prayers are with Dahrran Diedrick’s friends, family, and former coaches and teammates during this difficult time,» Ambrosie wrote in a tweet Saturday. «Another life tragically cut short by cancer».
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Diedrick finished his CFL career with 872 rushing yards on 179 carries and six touchdowns.