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September 2, 2011
SOUTH BEND, Ind. - By the time South Bend (Ind.) Washington High School head coach Antwon Jones presented the game ball to Gehrig Dieter late Friday night, the record-breaking receiver barely had the energy to lift it.
For the three hours prior, in a game delayed by temperatures in the mid-90s, Dieter had pieced together a career highlight reel with two Notre Dame assistant coaches watching from the end zone.
The numbers were beyond gaudy: a national record 447 yards receiving and three touchdowns.
He may have cost himself more if he didn't also add a 47-yard interception return for a score as part of Washington's 63-10 blowout of Elkhart Central.
"It was fun," Dieter said. "At the beginning of the game I didn't think I was going to get that many yards, but Coach Jones knows my ability to play, just threw it up a whole bunch of times. I came up with the national record.
"It feels good, but at the same time without the offensive line blocking, without the quarterback throwing, I wouldn't have the record."
For the season, Dieter has approximately 30 catches for 1,163 yards and 11 touchdowns.
Neither Dieter nor Jones apologized for hunting the national receiving record Friday night, which included Washington throwing a play action pass from its own 10-yard line early in the fourth quarter, which Dieter hauled in for a 90-yard touchdown to go with scores from 70 and 66 yards.
"Bottom line, their defense is supposed to stop us," Jones said.
Washington continued to throw in the final minutes against the backdrop of a running clock, that following a bench clearing brawl that ended with the ejection of an Elkhart player and Notre Dame commit, David Perkins.
Dieter's final catch came against triple coverage, the receiver snaring a fade route along the Washington sideline.
That will go down as Dieter's favorite of the night.
"I think the record breaker because I was triple covered and I got hurt on it," Dieter said. "I think I false started but they didn't call it, I think they had two people pressing me, I got off that and threw it up. I just went up and got it. I think I landed wrong on my knee, I came up sore."
"I was just super happy, super excited. I told Jones, 'just throw it up and I'll go get it.' "
For all the national attention that's found Dieter the past three weeks, it's yet to materialize into BCS conference offers.
Seven programs from the Mid-American Conference have extended scholarships, as has SMU.
Even if local school Notre Dame doesn't jump into the picture, Dieter's profile appears primed for a change.
As for potential leaders, last year's BCS title game participants stand out.
"Really I think Auburn just because of (quarterback) Zeke Pike and coach (Trooper Taylor) and coach (Gus) Malzahn. I have a good relationship with them already," Dieter said. "Coach (Scott) Frost, we have a good relationship. He wants my kind of receiver. They need that kind of receiver.
"I'm still playing with a chip on my shoulder. I feel like I haven't got the respect I've earned."
- Pete Sampson is the editor for IrishIllustrated.com, the top source for coverage of Notre Dame football.