Matt Moro, a 6-1 195 safety from El Camino College in Torrance, Calif., said that he plans to enroll at West Virginia in May after making a visit to campus this past week. Moro, an all-around defender who plays well against both the pass and the run, had a stellar visit to the Mountain State.
"West Virginia got in touch with me a couple of months ago, and Lonnie Galloway offered me a scholarship and a visit. They wanted to check out my background and my grades and make sure everything was o.k., and once they did that, they brought me in. When Coach Galloway left, Coach Casteel and Coach Dunlap took over the recruiting. Coach Casteel is an excellent guy, and I also talked with the head coach Bill Stewart. He's just phenomenal. Really, all the coaches are. I talked to all of them on my visit, and they really make everyone feel like family. They are concerned with developing you as a man as well as a football player.
"On my visit, I got to tour all the facilities, and they took me around campus. I loved it. I enjoyed the visit, the coaches, everything. The way the school and education program is run got my attention, and I love the way the players are molded together. I watched the scrimmage on Friday, and I was impressed with the whole team. I think we are going to go far this year."
The "we" is significant, because Moro is just a couple of steps away from becoming a Mountaineer. He is just a week away from finishing his final class and graduating from El Camino, and once he does that and gets his paperwork in order, he plans to move to West Virginia in mid-May and join the team. He will be immediately eligible, and will have three years to play two after playing one season at the College of the Desert in 2009 and another at El Camino last fall.
Moro's path to junior college isn't an uncommon one. A native of Miami, Fla., Moro attended Southridge High School, but managed just one season on the football field due to grade issues. Those also kept him from qualifying for Division I, but that served as a wake-up call.
"I wasn't recruited much out of high school because of those grades, and because of my immaturity," he said frankly. "I woke up when I realized that there weren't a lot of career paths in Miami for people in my situation, and I made a commitment to myself to turn it around. Really, it was my commitment to the Lord and to my religion that was the biggest thing. I wanted to change my life, go to college and earn my degree, and to play football."
Moro has certainly followed through on that promise. He earned El Camino's "Scholar Baller" Award, which is presented to those players who earn a 3.0 or higher GPA, and is just the one completed class away from graduating. That he was able to do so while traveling all the way across the country from his home also speaks to his personal improvement.
"There's no junior college football in Florida, so I knew I had to go somewhere else," he said of the decision to make the trek to California. "I definitely want to play football and take it as far as I can, and I thought that was the best path for me. I believe I have the talent and the mindset to do that, and I have had the right coaches to help me do that. And I think the coaches at West Virginia will be able to help me continue with that."
After a freshman year at the College of the Desert, where he started every game, Moro moved to El Camino – a better program with a reputation for developing Division I players. There, he earned second team all-conference honors while recording 41 tackles (second on the team) while leading the defense in forced fumbles and pass breakups. Those numbers serve to support his confidence in his play.
"I definitely think I can make an immediate impact at West Virginia," he said. "I'm very confident with my game, I'm diligent and I'm a hard worker. I can cover really well – I can lock down the middle of the field come up in run support and make a big hit. And if I get the ball in my hands I can score. I'm good in the open field, too. I know one thing the coaches are stressing is open-field tackling and stripping the ball, and I can do that. I think I have a very good all-around game."
Moro currently checks in at six feet, one inch and 192 pounds. He's targeted to begin his career at free safety, but notes that the coaches told him he might move around to other safety spots. He said he could easily add about ten pounds and play at the 205 mark without sacrificing speed.
"I've never been officially timed in the 40, but my coaches at El Camino told me they thought I could run in the low 4.4s," he said.
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Moro had offers from FIU, Toledo and SMU, and has fielded an increasing number of calls and heightened interest from schools such as Auburn, LSU, Oklahoma, UCLA, Oklahoma and Arizona. Despite that, he said his plans are firm.
"I'm not paying attention to any other offers or any more recruiting," he said. "I am solid to West Virginia."