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South Bend's Gehrig Dieter to play for national title

The Alabama Crimson Tide face off against the Clemson Tigers for the College Football National Championship.

A local football star will play in that game, the biggest stage in college football: South Bend native and former Washington High School superstar Gehrig Dieter.

He's one of the few local players to make it to this level. Tonight's game is a rematch of last year's, which the University of Alabama won 45-40.

His father, former South Bend Councilman Derek Dieter, says he's very proud of this accomplishment.

"For a kid who grew up throwing a Nerf ball on Portage Avenue in South Bend, to be at the biggest stage in college football, it's surreal. It's a fantastic opportunity. He's worked very hard, and we're very proud of him," said Derek Dieter.

Jay Johnson, the current head football coach at Gehrig Dieter's alma mater says he use to work with Diester everyday, and one of the things he remembers most about Dieter was his work ethic.

"He was constantly working. He had a goal even back then, and he knew that if he wanted to reach that goal he had to work, and that's the only thing he wanted to do, to work and become a better football player," said Johnson.

His father says tonight's game is the culmination of that hard work and following his dream. He says Gehrig has always wanted to play at this level and hopefully the next.

His former coach agrees with that sentiment. Johnson says he believes Gehrig has what it takes to be one of the first pro-football players to come out of South Bend.

"It's just drive, drive and determination, and it proves that no matter where you are from , and if you have that drive and are blessed with those opportunities, the sky is the limit and anything can happen," said Johnson.

Tonight's game starts at 8 p.m. EST on ESPN, and the teams are playing in Tampa Florida where his whole family is right now cheering him on.

Alabama is undefeated so far this year, but Clemson was undefeated going into last year's championship, and they ended up losing to Alabama.

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