A local product from Fox Chapel Area High School, offensive guard Miles Dieffenbach is one of the most likeable players on the Penn State roster. We’ve written about his ability to be a character in the Nittany Lions’ locker room and practice field. But how about Dieffenbach’s true character?
Former Pitt assistant Bryan Deal was Dieffenbach’s coach at Fox Chapel. Now the golf coach and a teacher at the school, Deal relayed to the Trib’s Kevin Gorman about something very kind that Dieffenbach did for Deal’s family.
Deal’s stepson, Kyle Johnson, tragically died at 23 while running the Pittsburgh Half Marathon in May.
Johnson, a North Allegheny graduate who was a lineman on the 2007 Tigers’ team that finished the regular season undefeated, graduated from Penn State in 2012. Active in the university community via the Lion Ambassadors and THON, Johnson was a friend of Dieffenbach’s. Even after Johnson graduated, he would accompany Deal and his family on visits to Penn State, going out to dinner with Dieffenbach.
“Miles has a big heart and knew how devastated we were regarding Kyle’s sudden passing, as you can imagine,” Deal wrote in an email.
Dieffenbach wears No. 65, the same number Johnson did in high school. As a tribute to Johnson’s family, Dieffenbach provided them four tickets and field passes to the Lions’ game against Central Florida on Sept. 14. Afterward, he presented a No. 65 “K. JOHNSON” jersey signed by the entire Penn State team to Kyle’s mother MaryBeth, Deal and Kyle’s younger bother Seth Johnson. MaryBeth is a Penn State alum, and Seth Johnson is a junior at Penn State.
“It was a very moving gesture on behalf of Miles, the team, and the staff,” Deal said
“The picture tells it all. Miles is a kind, compassionate, caring person. He came to the funeral home as well as the funeral. He knew how much PSU was a part of Kyle, Seth, and MaryBeth’s life… Needless to say it was very moving and a wonderful gesture on Miles and the PSU football family.
“It just proved what a special person he is both on and off the field.”
Dieffenbach and Kyle Johnson got to know each other through the recruiting process. Dieffenbach said presenting his family – Penn State fans, all – with a jersey was the least he could do.
“That was something I really wanted to do,” Dieffenbach said. “I was pretty close with Kyle; we were friends, just when I heard, it was such a tragic incident. I just felt like there was something I could do to help that family out. He wore No. 65 in high school so I thought that was pretty cool so we got his name on back and got team to sign it got sign it and got them to the game. It was a really special moment for that family and I wish the best for them.”
Among his teammates, Dieffenbach is one of the most popular players on the Penn State team. Usually, it’s for his lighthearted, joking manner. He’s certainly just as respected for his class.
“Every good team that I’ve been around has a guy like Miles Dieffenbach,” Penn State coach Bill O’Brien said. “He’s a good player, he’s a good student, and he’s a very, very good guy.”