Hundreds of prospects spent last week in Indianapolis at the 2023 NFL Scouting Combine interviewing with several teams and putting on a show to make a case for why they deserve an opportunity in the NFL.
While this incoming rookie class wants to make a name for themselves, many model their games after current NFL stars. Among the wide receiver class of prospects, it wasn't odd to hear Stefon Diggs' name as many have learned from him and also have connections to him.
Four offensive prospects at this year's NFL Combine grew up less than an hour away from Diggs. Growing up so close to a premier wide receiver like Diggs has left an impact on each and every one.
Two of the four actually attended Diggs' alma mater, the University of Maryland. Wide receiver Rakim Jarrett, a Maryland product, reached out to Diggs when deciding what college to attend.
"I reached out to him during my process of picking Maryland," Jarrett shared. "He said it was a good decision for him and what he wanted to do, and it worked out for him. I just took the advice and kind of implemented it into what I wanted to do."
Jarrett, who is from Palmer Park, MD, grew up about 30 minutes away from Diggs' hometown and played in 28 games over his three-year career at Maryland. During that time, the WR totaled 119 catches, 1,552 receiving yards and 10 receiving touchdowns.
One of the reasons why Diggs played at Maryland was to be close to his hometown of Gaithersbug, MD, and Jarrett wanted to do the same.
"He just said it meant more," Jarrett said of Diggs' decision to play for his home state. "Of course, I could have went to Alabama, Georgia or any type of school like that. But it means more when you stay home, and you do it for the fans that's always rooting for you and you can always go back home and have a fan base that that believes in you and truly cares for you."
Dontay Demus is another receiver who grew up around 40 minutes away from Diggs' hometown. Demus said Diggs also played a role in his decision to attend the University of Maryland. The WR said Diggs's gave him advice to be confident in his ability.
In his five seasons at Maryland, Demus racked up 128 catches, 2,008 receiving yards and 14 total touchdowns. Now going through the draft process, Demus said he looked to Diggs when choosing an agency.
"(He) helped me pick my agency, me being at the same agency as him and having the same agent," Demus said. "So just kind of just talking to him, getting feedback from Stef from how he came up and really how he just enjoyed his time at Maryland."
Diggs hasn't only had an impact on Maryland products. He's also touched players who went to the University of Minnesota and USC.
University of Minnesota running back Mohamed Ibrahim actually went to the same high school as Diggs. Ibrahim said he's always looked up to the All-Pro wide receiver.
"His success led me to go to that high school," Ibrahim said. "It put that high school on the map, and then we kind of kept that legacy going."
After his time at Our Lady of Good Counsel High School, Ibrahim went on to tear it up in a Gophers uniform. The RB had three 1,000-yard seasons in his five-year career and totaled 53 rushing touchdowns.
Ibrahim said it was inspiring to see Diggs come back to his high school to visit.
"I've met him a few times," Ibrahim shared. "He came back a few times, and he always would come back to the high school and stuff like that. I've also worked out with him once or twice."
Another wide receiver who has ties to Diggs is USC product Jordan Addison. Addison grew up in a neighborhood right around where Diggs was raised.
Addison is a highly-touted wide receiver coming out of this draft class and has even been mocked to the Bills in the first round. In 2022, Addison grabbed 59 catches for 875 receiving yards and scored eight touchdowns. Before transferring to USC, the WR totaled 100 receptions, 1,593 receiving yards and 17 touchdowns at Pitt in 2021.
The talented WR with loads of potential at the next level models his game after Diggs.
"I model my game after Calvin Ridley and Stefon Diggs," Addison shared. "What I take from them is just route running, being able to separate at the top of the route and create separation."
Since the Bills Pro Bowler has had such an impact on these soon-to-be NFL players, they said they would feel honored to get drafted by the Bills and think it would be amazing to have the chance to play alongside someone that has inspired them from a young age.
"We played for the same Youth League team, and that was just a guy that I looked up to," Addison said. "And watching him growing up, he went to Good Counsel, and I went to a few of them games. So just playing in that offense with him would mean a lot."
It's not just Diggs they'd love to play with though, the prospects believe playing for a quarterback like Josh Allen could help change their game for the better.
"I would love to," Ibrahim said while thinking of playing for Buffalo. "He's (Josh Allen) a dominant player. Whenever he has the ball in his hands he can run it, he can throw it, he can do it all."
"It would be very, very helpful," Demus said of playing with Allen. "Him being able to see over the line and just being able to make key reads with guys like Stef. I feel like I'd be really good in that role."
Even though Diggs is heading into his ninth NFL season, his presence and his come-up story still has an influence on the younger generation.
Years ago, Diggs was just a kid from Maryland with dreams of going pro. Fast forward eight years and he's now an NFL star who's had five-straight 1,000-yard seasons. Those kids from Maryland today look at Diggs' ascension to greatness and think that type of success is possible thanks to a role model like Diggs.