Diaz: Our team isn’t far from competing for championships
Willie Moise was willing to give the Miami Hurricanes the benefit of the doubt when Manny Diaz left his post as defensive coordinator to become the coach of the Temple Owls.
He was even willing to stick it out when Mark Richt abruptly retired as coach the day before New Year’s Eve. Moise grew up rooting for Miami in a household of Hurricanes fans, so he wanted to see where the program was heading.
It all paid off for the defensive lineman. Just a matter of hours after Richt retired, Miami pried Diaz back from Temple. The new coach was probably the biggest reason Moise committed to the Hurricanes in the first place. It couldn’t have worked out better.
“A lot has changed, but I’ve stuck to it. I like it. I’m a Miami person,” Moise said Sunday at The Opening Miami regional at the Miami Dolphins Training Facility in Davie. “Manny Diaz was the one who offered me and recruited me, so I always liked him and I like the changes that he’s already started doing.”
Still, Moise wants to do his due diligence before he enrolls in 2020. Even though he’s solid in his commitment to the Hurricanes, the junior plans to take visits elsewhere before making a final choice either in the early signing period or on National Signing Day next year.
“I’m taking all my officials,” Moise said. “I’m exploring all my options, but I’m committed.”
Landing a commitment from Moise was a strong early coup for Diaz when he was still Miami’s defensive coordinator. Moise was unranked as a prospect at the time and had recently picked up a scholarship offer from the LSU Tigers, but he was already a two-time state champion, first as a defensive end for Valdosta, which won a Georgia state title in 2016, then as a starting right tackle for Chaminade-Madonna in 2017.
Last season, Moise added a third state title. He once again started at right tackle for the Lions and also became a starting defensive tackle to help Chaminade-Madonna win the Class 3A championship for the second straight year. Along the way, Moise piled up 66 tackles, 22 tackles for loss and nine sacks. He’s now a four-star defensive tackle, ranked No. 22 at his position in the 247Sports.com composite rankings.
Early on, Moise had interest from schools on both sides of the line, although Miami always envisioned him primarily as a defensive lineman. Now everyone agrees.
“I went both ways all year because I need to go both ways. I’m going to do whatever coach told me,” Moise said. “I’m a team player, but all my offers of scholarships are as a D-lineman. I had Oregon for O-line, but they just switched it.
“I basically don’t get off, so I try to stay conditioned.”
Until he signs his National Letter of Intent, Moise will have a host of future — and soon-to-be current — Hurricanes making sure he’s set with Miami.
The Hurricanes signed three of Moise’s Lions teammates — four-star safety Keontra Smith, four-star cornerback Te’Cory Couch and three-star defensive end Cameron Williams — in the early signing period and Moise said they all stay on him to make sure the 6-foot-3, 276-pound lineman stays locked in with Miami.
In the meantime, Moise will still spend more time in Coral Gables than at any other school. His last visit elsewhere came in the summer, when he went to Alabama to visit the Auburn Tigers. Since then, Moise has taken plenty of visits with the Hurricanes, most recently for a junior day event Feb. 3, when Moise got to see the new-look program and meet with new defensive coordinator Blake Baker.
“He’s cool,” Moise said. “I met with him and they know they’re stuff.”