Justin Diddell is 6-foot-2, 280 pounds, but when the Kaneland senior played on offense for a few snaps last season, he didn’t play on the offensive line. He played fullback.
Coach Tom Fedderly knew that the All-Northern Illinois Big 12 defensive tackle had the quickness for the position, and his speed, size and strength should serve him well when he plays right tackle this season.
“He’s huge. He’s big. He’s fast,” senior linebacker Gary Koehring said. “He’s one of those freak athlete guys. It’s just a big combination of size and strength, which is just really awesome. It really helps.”
Diddell is simply too talented to sit for half of each game, so he and fellow defensive tackle Joe Komel, another Division I prospect, will man the tackle positions on offense and defense this year.
Diddell already has received offers from Eastern Michigan and North Dakota, and Fedderly said he’s taken plenty of calls from D-I coaches inquiring about him. The senior went to camp after camp this summer to prove himself and garner interest, and that’s put him in the best shape of his career. Because of that, Fedderly doesn’t think playing both ways will be an issue.
“When you’re supposedly a Division I athlete, most of them go both ways and they understand that and they want to do that,” Fedderly said. “With all the preparation he did in the summer, he was at multiple camps every week, where he had to compete against the best and do all the combine stuff that they did. He’s in really good shape and I have no doubt that he can [play on both sides].”
But his physical gifts aren’t Diddell’s only attributes that have Fedderly and the rest of the Knights excited about him heading into the 2013 season.
“[I’ve improved at] having my own motor,” Diddell said. “I’m able to push myself harder, able to keep going from the first period to the second period. That’s what I’m getting better at.”
Koehring has played with Diddell since they were freshmen playing on the sophomore team, and he knows his teammate’s growth has been important to his success as an all-area linebacker. With Diddell playing on both sides of the ball, Kaneland is sure to benefit from his raw talent and improved skills.
“He played in front of me as a freshman, and he was kind of softer back then, but he’s definitely grown up, gotten a lot stronger and he’s doing really well,” Koehring said. “Definitely over the years, [his work ethic] has gotten a lot better. For this year, the most, I’ve noticed he’s definitely been working. He’s one of those guys who works every day to push himself and push other guys on the team.”