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From South Bend to the NFL: Gehrig Dieter chases boyhood dream

Dieter interview.jpg

Staying on the radar, and on the roster, is the biggest challenge for South Bend's Gehrig Dieter, who's chasing his boyhood dream of playing in the NFL.

"Its the thing I want to do with my life," says Gehrig Dieter, who was back home in South Bend for the weekend.

The 2011 All-state wide receiver from South Bend Washington faces an uphill climb, trying to make the Kansas City Chiefs roster as an undrafted free agent.

"There's not to many of them that are in the NFL," Dieter says of free agents.

"It's a tough job because you don't get that many reps in practice. (Coaches) are focused on making the team better. You get lucky to get 15 reps in a practice."

Last year, Dieter was one of the final players cut after training camp, but the Chiefs kept him around on the practice squad.

"It's not easy," Dieter says of life as an NFL practice squad player.

"You are there every single day. You do everything but play in the game. I am there every meeting, every practice. I'm obviously playing receiver but some days you may be playing defensive back if they need numbers and you are playing every special team. You have to basically do everything. It's a hard job but at the same time it's fun."

Dieter's best friend on the Chiefs is Pat Mahomes. A rookie QB last year, the team recently handed the reigns over to Mahomes. Now, he's the guy running the offense, and the fact that Dieter has a great rapport with him both on and off the field could enhance his chances of making the team.

"I'm hoping it helps a lot."

"Working on same practice squad all year last year, we worked together all off season in Kansas City and having that relationship with him and knowing that he trusts me is a big thing with the coaches when they make their decision."

Dieter's visit to South Bend was a quick one. He was back in his hometown for just a few days, in part to put on a football clinic for local kids. Carrying the mantle as one of the few guys in recent decades to go from South Bend to the NFL is not one he takes lightly.

"It means a lot. You just want to be a role model to the kids and that is what I try to be. "

He'll spend the next month in Kansas City, working out at the Chiefs training facility and preparing for a training camp that could make or break his career.

"Making the team is the main goal, but just not making the team: I want to make a difference on the team, have an impact season. I want to make sure I am on the team and playing on Sundays."

Dieter is currently considered s a 3rd string WR on the Chiefs depth chart. He'll likely have to pass one or two guys ahead of him on the Chiefs depth chart, as well as hold off competition from several rookies to earn that spot. Nevertheless, he's grateful for the chance.

"Its a bunch of fun. Anytime you get to go play football, especially for a job, you can't beat that. At the end of the day it is what I want to do. "


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