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Berea, Ohio — Two of Quandre Diggs's former teammates aren't surprised the rookie cornerback acquitted himself well during the Lions' offseason program.

After all, at Texas, the 5-foot-9 cornerback had a nickname related to his ability to play bigger than his size.

"You could look at him and see he packs a punch," said Jordan Hicks, a Texas linebacker drafted in the third round by the Eagles. "We had a nickname for him — Quandre the Giant — because of how big he played."

The 198-pound Diggs obviously doesn't measure up to the 7-foot-4 Andre the Giant, but he made plenty of big plays during his four years as a starter at Texas. In addition to 214 career tackles, 11 interceptions and 43 passes defensed, Diggs had three forced fumbles in college.

"He's a dog," said former Texas tight end Geoff Swaim, a seventh-round pick by the Cowboys. "He's always played that way with a chip on his shoulder, and I think that's just going to fuel him as he goes forward."

The Lions' sixth-round pick, Diggs earned several first-team reps at nickel cornerback during organized team activities. Though he'll have to continue to improve in training camp, Diggs should have a chance to compete with fellow diminutive cornerbacks Josh Wilson (5-foot-9) and Nevin Lawson (5-foot-10) for a nickel role.

The Lions could also use a safety or rookie cornerback Alex Carter at nickel after regularly using a three-safety set last year, but Diggs will have an opportunity to prove himself. And if Diggs starts making plays in training camp, some Lions receivers might hear from him.

"He was a dude, if he locked you down, you're going to hear about it all day," Swaim said. "And if you beat him, he's not going to stop. He's just going to keep coming at you."

The chirping, though, wasn't trash talk from Diggs, Swaim said. Instead, he was pushing his teammates to be their best. Though he wasn't typically a vocal leader, Swaim said Diggs led by example with a strong work ethic.

Hicks said Diggs was part of a tight-knit defensive unit with the Longhorns.

"That's what you get when you get Quandre, a very, very loyal friend," he said. "Somebody who is always going to hold you accountable and expects you to hold him accountable."

Diggs' baptism in training camp should be rather quick as the Lions' slot corner will often have to face difficult matchups with Golden Tate or Eric Ebron. His Texas teammates think Diggs' consistently aggressive playing style should help him in the slot, though he played outside in college.

"I think he was a big time sleeper," Swaim said.

Hicks was a sophomore when Diggs arrived at Texas, and after seeing him make an instant impact, he thinks he can do the same in the NFL. Hicks also praised Diggs' intelligence and said it's clear he grew up with football. Diggs' brother Quentin Jammer was an NFL cornerback for 12 seasons.

As for the Quandre the Giant nickname, Diggs said a group of teammates started using it when he was a freshman. And he'll have to earn such a name at the next level.

"It's a new league, and I just want to come ball," he said.

jkatzenstein@detroitnews.com

twitter.com/jkatzenstein

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