Wolfpack assistant coach Manny Diaz has had somewhat of a whirlwind career at NC State over the last four years. He arrived in Raleigh as a graduate assistant who helped out on the defensive side of the ball after working as the defensive cinematographer at Florida State in 1998-99. In 2001 Pack head coach Chuck Amato promoted Diaz to LB's coach after coach Joe Pate moved to DL coach. He held that position until earlier this year when Reggie Herring was announced as the new Wolfpack defensive coordinator. Herring is also known as one of the top LB coaches in the nation and as a result, Diaz saw his duties shifted from LB's to Safeties. Additionally, Diaz will take over State's special teams- a position vacated when coach Pate decided to step down earlier this year.
On the recruiting front, Diaz has seen some changes as well. Last year he was responsible for covering the southeastern region of Virginia, parts of eastern North Carolina and areas in central Florida. Diaz has since moved out of central Florida which has given him more time to focus on NC and the recruiting hotbed of eastern Virginia.
And while he may be the youngest member on Amato's staff, Diaz has quickly established himself as one of the ACC's top, up-and-coming recruiters. He holds the Pack's only verbal commitment for the class of 2005 with a pledge from super DE Chad Green of Hinds Community College. Last season he snagged two of the Wolfpack's biggest signees in RB Andre Brown and DL Gerard Miller. This year, Diaz has set the table for an even better haul as he's landed the Pack on the favorite's list of numerous standout athletes.
Diaz jumped out of the blocks quickly, making early offers to standout OL Julian Williams and ATH Montario Hardesty of New Bern, NC. Since, State has been the strong leader for Williams and consistently held a place in Hardesty's top two along with childhood favorite Florida State. Both are considered potential top 10 prospects in NC with Hardesty receiving some mention as a possible national all-american selection.
A few weeks ago Diaz was reportedly in attendance at several combines held in the southeast region of Virginia. Combines give coaches a chance to watch potential prospects up close and get their measurables. In addition to seeing players in person, it's also very much about being seen. One player that Diaz certainly would have wanted to get in the line of sight of was all-everything LB Deveon Simmons of Virginia Beach, Va. The ultra-talented ‘backer already has close to 20 scholarship offers and will almost certainly receive consideration as one of the nation's top 5-10 LB's. According to several reports, NC State, along with Virginia Tech have emerged as the two top contenders for Simmons.
A prospect that has seemingly come out of nowhere is DE/DT Sam Daniels of Portsmouth, Va. At a combine held at Lake Taylor High School in Virginia, the 6-3, 240 pound DE/DT ran an electronically-timed 4.8-second 40-yard dash, had a 32-inch vertical jump and bench pressed 185 pounds 35 times with Diaz reportedly in attendance. Although there is no word as to whether State decided to pull the trigger on an offer, the Pack is extremely interested and early rumors have State potentially holding the lead.
Other Virginia standouts being recruited by Diaz mentioning the Pack prominently are DE Antonio Appleby and Demetrius Taylor of Virginia Beach, Va, QB Jameel Sewell and DE Jeffrey Fitzgerald of Richmond, Va and Jamar Jackson of Hampton, Va.
Just this past week, Diaz and NC State reportedly made offers to DE/TE Everette Brown and RB/ATH Re'quan Boyette of Wilson, NC. StateFans will be working to get feedback on both but the early word is that State has quickly propelled into the favorite's list of both. Brown is a fabulous talent on both sides of the ball who boasts amazing athleticism and quickness whether it be at DE, TE or LB. He has accrued scholarship offers from the likes of Florida State, Tennessee, Virginia Tech, Penn State and Maryland in addition to the Wolfpack.
Boyette is a speedster who earned his first offers of the year this past week when State and Duke made the decision to pull the trigger. He could project at a number of positions including slot receiver, RB or DB. Diaz has been on Boyette for weeks and the speedy prospect has listed State as a favorite for most of the early recruiting period. It is safe to say he'll be looking at NC State just a little differently now that he boasts a Wolfpack scholarship offer.
Manny Diaz (right) and former Wolfpack Safeties Coach Chris Demarest