David Diehl, who played offensive line for the Fighting Illini from 1999-2002 and now plays for the New York Giants, recently donated funding for the new weight equipment in the football Personal Performance Center. Diehl is in town this weekend for the football letterwinners reunion and the spring football game.
April 24, 2009
by Jonathan Zobrist, Illinois Sports Information
New York Giants offensive tackle Dave Diehl has accomplished almost everything a player could on the field. Still, the six-year NFL starter has never forgotten his Illinois roots. Recently, the alumnus made a lasting impact on the future of the program, donating brand new weight equipment for the new facility.
"I learned so many lessons during my time as an Illini," Diehl said. "It's humbling to be able to give back directly to the program that helped me achieve my success. The foundation of a football player is in the weight room working his hardest to get stronger and ready for the field. I'm just happy I am in a position to help.²
Diehl in many ways embodies the heart of an Illini. During his career at Illinois he played at both guard and tackle positions along with special teams, doing whatever necessary to help the team. The 2001 Big Ten champion was a key component is setting school records for total offense and scoring during his career.
"I was privileged to play at Illinois," Diehl said. "There is nothing more a kid from the Chicagoland area can ask for than to play at his state university. Playing the prostyle offense and going up against some of the top competition in the nation has made me into the player I am today."
Being on the East Coast, it can be hard getting up-to-date information on the Illini. However, Diehl makes sure he is staying close to the program.
"I am on the internet all the time keeping track of the team," Diehl said. "I also talk to Coach Zook, watch some practice film and read up about spring ball."
So, how does Diehl feel about this year's team?
"I'm extremely excited," Diehl said. "Every time I talk to Coach Zook I can hear his enthusiasm for the team. We had a lot of young talent last year and they benefitted from another year of experience. They have something to prove and I know they are hungry for another Big Ten title.
Diehl is back in Champaign this weekend to get an up close look at this year's squad and to see his fellow alumni.
"Illinois is a family," Diehl said. "There should be around 200 alumni back, so it's always great to come back and see how everyone is doing."