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Q&A: Hard work helps Northwestern walk-on Doug Diedrick earn scholarship

Published: Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2014 4:30 p.m. CDT • Updated: Friday, Aug. 8, 2014 2:32 p.m. CDT
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(Photo provided by Stephen J. Carrera/Northwestern Athletics)
Northwestern's Doug Diedrick returns a kickoff in a game against Illinois last season. The Woodridge native and Montini graduate is looking to have a big impact this fall during his junior season.

Doug Diedrick knows a lot about winning, having been a member of football state title-winning teams with Montini in 2009 and 2010. The Woodridge native, who racked up five tackles in the 2009 title game and seven stops as a senior in 2010, matriculated at Northwestern as a preferred walk-on as was part of a 10-win team in 2012.

Currently a superback for the Wildcats, Diedrick is a newly-minted scholarship player who is prepping for his junior season in Evanston. He recently spoke with Suburban Life sports editor Jason Rossi about making the jump from high school to college football, his preparation for this season, and about playing for iconic Northwestern head coach Pat Fitzgerald.

Rossi: What did you do in the offseason to get as ready as possible for the upcoming campaign?

Diedrick: I was in the early-morning workout group, lifting at 5:30 in the morning. Those were as good of workouts as we've had. Then we'd do an hour, hour-and-a-half of running, speed work and agility drills. It was the same stuff we've been doing in the past, we just did it more often. I definitely feel like I'm ready for the season.

Rossi: As a team, you definitely had some close losses last year (two overtime losses and two others by three points or less). Are you and your teammates using that as motivation?

Diedrick: Everyone is motivated. We know we lost a couple games we definitely could have won, but we feel like we can bounce back if we can find a way to finish games strong. If we can do that, we feel things will work out for us better this year.

Rossi: What's it like making the jump from high school to college football?

Diedrick: It's definitely a big jump. You have more responsibility because you're on your own and you have to make decisions yourself. But it's also fun because you can improve and you can show your teammates how your hard work can pay off.

Rossi: Do you think playing at Montini helped get you ready for the college game?

Diedrick: Big Ten, playing at the college level, it's definitely a huge step, but playing at Montini definitely prepared me. The knowledge that I gained from my coaches in high school, I feel like that was as good as any high school around.

Rossi: What's it like playing for a guy like coach Fitzgerald?

Diedrick: He's an unbelievable coach. He's a player's coach. He's been through it, so he gets it. He knows what we're going through. He's a great motivator and a great guy to be around.

Rossi: What are some of your personal goals this season?

Diedrick: I know my role as a fullback and special teams player, and I want to take advantage in practice, earn my spot on special teams again and try to find my way on to the field on offense.

Rossi: Is there one home game you're really looking forward to this season?

Diedrick: I think Wisconsin will be a big one. They got the best of us last year, so I think that will be a fun game.

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