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May 26, 2010Scott Dierking was present at Purdue's post-spring banquet when it was announced that his son, Dan Dierking, would serve as a Boilermaker captain just as he had some 30 years ago.
"He came up, gave me a big hug and his eyes were tearing up," Dan Dierking said. "I'm sure it meant a lot to him."
"It was just a little tear," Scott Dierking joked. "He didn't have to share that. But, yeah, it was huge, for all the hard work they've put in.
"He's always led by example, whether it's in practice, the weight room or the classroom. He just seems to be someone other players feel like they should follow into battle."
Scott Dierking was one of Purdue's captains in 1976 as a senior, a year in which he capped off a college career that still stands as one of the school's finest for a running back. The elder Dierking's 2,863 rushing yards and 25 touchdowns still stand fourth and seventh, respectively, all-time in Boilermaker record books.
Now, decades later, he gets one more distinction, being half of the first father-son tandem at Purdue to serve as team captains.
Each Dierking took a different path to their roles as such.
The eldest was a starter by the time he was a sophomore in 1974 and a thousand-yard rusher by the time he was a senior in '76, an NFL player shortly thereafter.
The youngest followed his father's path to Purdue, where a well-stocked backfield awaited, and has since contributed in a variety of roles.
He's long been one of the Boilermakers' top specialists and became an important contributor as a junior as, of all things, a fullback, where his 5-foot-9, sub-200-pound stature defies the prototype.
Dan Dierking is one of his team's most respected players, as evidenced by his teammates voting him a captain, a distinction usually bestowed on starters.
But considering the variety of roles he could play as a senior, Dierking could see starter-type playing time in terms of the number of snaps he gets in 2010.
"In my exit interview with Coach (Danny) Hope (after the season)," Dierking said, "he asked me what I saw myself doing this season and I just said, 'Whatever it takes to win,' and he said, 'You're going to play all of them, so just be ready.'"
Last year, defensive tackle Mike Neal was named a captain, in some part because of how he could motivate teammates in the weight room with his awesome strength.
Dan Dierking is strong - as of last week, Dierking weighed 193 pounds; last summer, he bench-pressed 435 - too. The similarities between he and Neal end right there, but Dierking hopes to have some of the same unseen effect this summer.
"The only thing (being a captain) might change is I might have to become a little more vocal," Dan Dierking said, "but I've always been one to be kind of loud in the weight room or in workouts, so it probably doesn't change a whole lot."
This spring, Dierking's goal was to win his team's Pit Bull Award for tenacious play. A minor knee injury dashed those hopes.
But soon after, he got a nice consolation prize, when teammates voted he, Keith Smith, Kyle Adams, Gerald Gooden and Ryan Kerrigan as new captains, while re-appointing Jason Werner, too.
"He understands this is his last shot," Scott Dierking said. "When we walked out of the banquet, he said, 'This would be so cool to be the captain of a Rose Bowl champion team.' I said, 'Well, that's setting the bar pretty high.'"
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