Canadian running back Dahrran Diedrick, who led Nebraska to an NCAA championship berth and later won three Grey Cup titles over a 10-year CFL career, died early Saturday morning (June 24) after a battle with cancer. He was 44.
The Montreal Alouettes, the team Diedrick won two of his Grey Cups with, confirmed his passing. Hall of Fame quarterback Anthony Calvillo, currently the CFL team’s offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, was a teammate of Diedrick’s for eight seasons in La Belle Province.
“I won two championships with Dahrran, and he was a very important piece of our team,” Calvillo said in a statement. “He was always in a good mood and got along with everyone in our dressing room.
“He leaves us far too young, and I send my best thoughts to his loved ones.”
The six-foot, 225-pound Diedrick, who was born in Jamaica but raised in Toronto, was the first Canadian-born scholarship recruit to play for the University of Nebraska. In 2001, Diedrick started for the Cornhuskers, rushing for a Big 12-leading 1,299 yards and 15 touchdowns.
Diedrick helped Nebraska reach the ‘02 Rose Bowl, which also happened to be the NCAA national championship game. But the Miami Hurricanes captured the title with a 37-14 victory.
However, Diedrick also excelled in he classroom at Nebraska. In 2002, he was one of five Cornhuskers who played that season with their degree in hand.
Diedrick earned his undergraduate criminal justice degree in December 2001 and completed his undergraduate work with a 3.165 cumulative GPA. He finished his collegiate football career with 2,745 yards rushing on 502 carries with 26 touchdowns.
Edmonton selected Diedrick in the third round of the ‘02 CFL draft but the running back opted to return to school before signing with the San Diego Chargers as an undrafted free agent the following year. He also had stints with the Green Bay Packers and Washington Commanders, playing one game in 2004.
He joined Edmonton in 2005, earning his first Grey Cup that year.
Diedrick was then acquired by Montreal, where he played from 2006 to 2013, winning Grey Cups in 2009 and ‘10. Following a short stint with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in 2013 he returned to the Alouettes for his final season in 2014.
It was during the 2014 campaign that Diedrick was diagnosed with hepatosplenic gamma-delta T-cell lymphoma, a rare but very aggressive form of the disease. He retired at season’s end but later served as the Toronto Argonauts strength coach in 2017, earning a fourth Grey Cup ring that season.
Diedrick ran for 872 yards on 179 carries over 130 CFL regular-season games with six touchdowns.
“Dahrran was a very good friend of mine in the locker room, and we kept in touch after our careers,” said Eric Deslauriers, Montreal’s senior director of football operations who also spent eight seasons as a teammate of Diedrick’s with the Alouettes. “I remember a very physical player when he had the ball, no one could take it away from him.
“My thoughts are with his loved ones and his family, my heart is very heavy right now.”
The Canadian Press