Diaz: Our team isn’t far from competing for championships
Tre’von Riggins didn’t flinch when Manny Diaz left his post as the Miami Hurricanes’ defensive coordinator to become coach of the Temple Owls. The four-star defensive end didn’t flinch, either, when Mark Richt abruptly retired the day before New Year’s Eve.
So there was no reason for Riggins to change anything when Diaz came back to the program later in the day. By then, the Bradenton IMG Academy junior had been committed to Miami for nearly a year, back when Diaz was in charge of the defense and Craig Kuligowski was defensive line coach, so he wanted to give the Hurricanes the benefit of the doubt after so much changed toward the end of 2018. In less than 24 hours, Miami won him over.
“When I found out Coach Richt had left, I was surprised, but I was still going to stay committed and all that,” Riggins said Monday. “I just felt like I just had to see where the program was going to go and make sure the right guy was picked for the job, and the right guy was picked for the job.”
Riggins is one of nine players orally committed to the Hurricanes’ Class of 2020, which currently ranks No. 3 in the 247Sports.com composite rankings. The defensive lineman, who is originally from St. Petersburg, is the longest tenured member of the class, edging out fellow four-star defensive end Samuel Anaele by just five days.
On Feb. 3, Riggins was one of dozens of blue-chip prospects to spend the day in Coral Gables for Miami’s first major junior day event of the year. It was Riggins’ first time back in South Florida since Richt’s retirement and Diaz’s return to become coach of the Hurricanes, and he returned home to the Tampa Bay area impressed.
“I had a real good time being in the — as they call it — ‘New Miami.’ I really like it,” Riggins said. “Coach Diaz is a great coach, [defensive line coach Jess] Simpson, the whole defensive staff. I really like the offensive coaches. I really feel like that they’re going to coach something up. We’re going to have a really successful year.”
The defensive staff remaining intact is important to Riggins, who committed to the Hurricanes on the heels of the 2017 season, when Miami’s defense had just emerged as one of the nation’s truly elite units.
At the time, Riggins hoped he’d wind up as a defensive end at the next level, although his outlook has since changed. The 6-foot-2, 273-pound prospect projects as a defensive tackle in Diaz’s 4-3 defense, although he still has plenty to learn about the position.
Riggins saw limited action in 2017 as a reserve defensive end for IMG Academy before he finally kicked inside for the spring before his junior year. A torn meniscus, however, held him out for the entire 2018 season, leaving him mostly untested as an interior defensive lineman. He’ll be ready to get to work for IMG in the spring.
Said Riggins: “I’m fully cleared.”