"Chad is a special young man," his position coach, Clemson assistant Billy Napier, said. "He has been blessed with a lot of ability."
And it was that ability the coaches noticed about the freshman fullback last August.
"At the point of attack, he is hard to deal with," Napier said. "One-on-one, he's one of the toughest players we have. He is going to engage you and fight. That's something we noticed right off the bat about him last August."
That got Diehl on the football field sooner than most expected. As a true freshman, he played on special teams and even saw some short yardage blocking assignments. But his season came to an end sooner than expected when he broke his lower leg down near his ankle while blocking in field goal formation in the Tigers' 38-10 win over Furman in Week 3.
His season was done, and thus garnered a medical redshirt tag.
"As bad as that was, it probably turned out to be the best thing for Chad and for the program because now we have ourselves a real good football player for four more years who has got his feet wet," Napier said.
In all, Diehl played in three games last season, while being apart of eight offensive plays as a fullback. He also played on the special teams units in each of those three games.
Rated as the No. 19 fullback in the nation by Scout.com and the No. 22 prospect in the state by CUTigers.com, Diehl was the MVP of the North-South High School All-Star game his senior year at Byrnes. An all-state and all-region selection, the two-star prospect according to Scout.com played offensive guard, linebacker, and fullback during his high school career. Diehl had 111 tackles, seven sacks, 16 quarterback pressures, 19 tackles for loss, and four caused fumbles as a senior and had 141 tackles and 12 tackles for loss as a junior. He chose Clemson over Duke, Marshall, Virginia Tech, and Wake Forest.
"He is just a tough, hard nosed joker," Napier said. "He is just so explosive in his lower body. When he engages, it's just like a cannon going off."
Napier said Diehl is 100 percent healed from his broken leg and will participate in all drills when spring practices get started this Saturday.
Diehl, who recorded a 4.0 GPA last fall, benched 415 pounds and power cleaned 365 pounds to give an indication of how in shape he is.
"He will be a little tentative probably mentally at first, but he will participate in full contact," Napier said. "He's looking good and did extremely well in mat drills. He is ready to go this spring."
The only weakness from Diehl is his total knowledge of the offense, but Napier isn't worried about that because he knows his fullback is more than smart enough to pick it up.
"He has a 4.0 GPA. It's not going to be much trouble for him to learn and me to teach him things," Napier said.