The Wolverine

January 2013

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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  where are they now? Diggs, though, admitted he never reached full strength the following season. "It was essentially an uphill battle after the surgery and the recovery time," he said. "I worked hard just to get in position to play that last year, but I never was fully back. "That team, though, was special. Everybody was so close; everybody got along with everybody, like brothers. We all hung out together. Each player had each other's back." They needed to lean on each other after falling at Oregon, and then Iowa after special teams miscues allowed the Hawkeyes to battle back from a 14-0 deficit. A miraculous comeback from 28-7 down at Minnesota the following week salvaged the season, Diggs recalled. The game changed in the fourth quarter on an interception return by safety Jacob Stewart. "That was his 15 minutes of fame — and it took him about 15 minutes to get to the end zone," Diggs quipped. "But they moved that game to Friday night and we were still a little down after losing to Iowa. All of a sudden they jumped up on us big. We were always taught to keep fighting, play all four quarters, don't stop until the end. Once we started chipping away, chipping away at it we got over the top. That kind of gave us momentum for the rest of the season. "That was the game that got us back on track and focused. We knew we could win the rest of our games. A team captain in 2003, Diggs now is a branch manager at a financial services company and a board member of a non-profit. photo courtesy inspiring minds We had some goals we set earlier, and we still had them in front of us. After we made that push back, we really turned it up." The 2003 Wolverines controlled their Rose Bowl destiny when Ohio State came to town for the finale, the only obstacle between U-M and a title. Diggs wouldn't have wanted it any other way. "I wanted it bad — really bad, especially coming off the 2002 game that we should have won and were in position to win," he said. "We wanted to go out on top. "The atmosphere and excitement … that's the loudest I ever heard the crowd at The Big House. It was just amazing. We got up, they fought back a little, but we still had them at the end." The 35-21 victory secured the Rose Bowl berth and one more Big Ten title ring for Diggs and his teammates. Diggs spent a short time on the Chicago Bears' practice squad before putting his degree to good use. He's been with Springleaf Financial for nearly seven years and does plenty of charitable work, sitting on the board of Inspiring Minds, a non-profit that helps underprivileged children overcome obstacles to reach new heights. They even took a group to Broadway a few years ago to see "The Color Purple," giving the kids a chance to meet actress/singer Fantasia and others after the show. "I'd always wanted to go to Michigan since I was a young kid, so I didn't care who else was involved in my recruitment. When Michigan said I had an offer, that was it," he said. "I didn't pay much attention to other letters I got. That was where I wanted to go." His objective now is to help others attain their own goals. "We want to take young kids and inspire them to reach their dreams," Diggs said. "Don't let anyone tell them what they can't do." For a kid who lived his dream to play at Michigan, he feels it's the least he can do. ❑ The Carl Diggs File Michigan Accomplishments: Four-year letter winner, 2000‑03, and three-year starter … Team captain and All-Big Ten honorable mention, 2003 … Finished his career with 191 total stops (135 solo), 23 tackles for loss and two sacks … Broke up three passes and forced a fumble … Notched one interception … Enjoyed his best season statistically in 2002, recording 65 tackles (44 solo), five stops behind the line of scrimmage and a sack … Notched seven tackles for loss and 56 solo tackles as a senior … Recorded a career-high 12 solo tackles in a 2001 game with Michigan State. Professional Accomplishments: Diggs spent a short time on the Chicago Bears' practice squad before being released in 2004. Michigan Memory: Diggs notched his share of big games in a Michigan uniform, but it was one in which he didn't play he remembers the most. "My first year running out the tunnel [in 1999] against Notre Dame — I was redshirted, but that's still one of my greatest memories, that and seeing the band perform," he recalled. Being voted captain in 2003 was one of the highlights of his young life. "It's always a great feeling to know your teammates have the utmost respect for you," he said. "You'd always strive to be somebody they could depend on, so for them to say we want you to lead this team, that was an unbelievable feeling. "At that point, you feel like it's on you — more than just keeping the team and everything under control, you're the guy that has to be responsible, on your P's and Q's all the time. You are the leader. They chose you to lead. These are guys you've spent three or four years with, so you know the responsibility once your name is called." Current Occupation: Branch manager at Springleaf Financial Services in Niles, Ohio … Also on the board of Inspiring Minds, a non-profit providing young people with opportunities and motivation to overcome obstacles that might prevent success … Call 330-469-6729 for information or to make a donation. Family: Diggs and his wife, Brooke, have been married for five years and reside in Warren, Ohio … He has two teenage children, a daughter and a son. Education: Diggs earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in 2003. January 2013    the wolverine  77

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