'Leaves us far too young': Former Cornhusker Diedrick dies at 44

MONTREAL -- Dahrran Diedrick, the Canadian running back who starred at Nebraska and won three Grey Cup titles in a 10-year Canadian Football League career, died Saturday after fighting cancer. He was 44.

The Montreal Alouettes, the team Diedrick helped win two Grey Cups, confirmed the death through his family.

Former quarterback Anthony Calvillo, currently the team's offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, was a teammate of Diedrick's for eight seasons in Montreal.

"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."

Born in Jamaica and raised in Toronto, the 6-foot, 225-pound Diedrick was the first Nebraska recruit from Canada to play for the Cornhuskers. In 2001, he started for Nebraska, rushing for a Big 12-leading 1,299 yards and 15 touchdowns.

Diedrick helped Nebraska reach the national championship game at the 2002 Rose Bowl, a 37-14 loss to Miami. He finished his college career with 2,745 yards rushing on 502 carries with 26 touchdowns.

"It's really sad," former Nebraska coach Frank Solich said. "Great kid. Huge 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 long with that combination. He was a true I-formation tailback. He'd give you everything he had."

Edmonton selected Diedrick in the third round of the 2002 CFL draft, but he 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 Green Bay and Washington, playing his lone NFL game in 2004 with Washington.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with the friends, family, and former coaches and teammates of Dahrran Diedrick during this difficult time," CFL Commissioner Randy Ambrosie tweeted. "Another life tragically cut short by cancer."

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 2010. Following a stint with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in 2013, he returned to the Alouettes for his final season in 2014.

During the 2014 campaign, Diedrick was diagnosed with hepatosplenic gamma delta T-cell lymphoma, a rare but very aggressive form of the disease. He retired at the end of the season and later served as strength coach with the Toronto Argonauts, in 2017, earning a fourth Grey Cup ring that season.

Diedrick ran for 872 yards on 179 carries with six touchdowns over 130 CFL regular-season games.

"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. "I remember a very physical player when he had the ball; no one could take it away from him."