Daniel Moraga of Oxnard (Calif.) Pacifica describes himself as someone you don’t want to befriend if you are his opponent on the football field.
“I'm not a nice guy on the field. I play very mean and aggressive,” Moraga said. “I don't believe in having friends under those lights and I approach the game with a Kevin Garnett-type mentality. I have a whole lot of confidence, but I don't express it for people to see. I honestly just make the big plays and let my actions speak for itself.”
Moraga’s ill-tempered approach has turned him into Pacifica’s top college prospect for the class of 2017. Along with his two offers, Moraga adds that Boise State, Fresno State, Washington State, San Diego State, Wyoming, Utah, Oregon State and Arizona State have expressed interest in him through letters.
It’s easy to see why Moraga isn’t well-liked by his opponents: He’s known in the 805 for making big plays in front of their eyes and face masks. On offense, Moraga is the tall target who beats one-on-one coverage for the ball, out-jumps two defenders for the sky lob and turns on the jets for the long touchdown scamper. Defensively, Moraga is the towering safety who closes fast on the ball, with great length enabling him to disrupt passing lanes.
Moraga led the 8-4 Tritons in the three major receiving categories last season: receptions (47), yards (867) and touchdowns (seven). He also led PHS with five interceptions.
While Moraga looks to continue to out-perform his opponents with no apologies, he’s trying to figure out which position he’ll play at the collegiate level.
“A lot of schools like me at tight end and some schools like me at both [wide receiver and tight end]," Moraga said. "They also like me on the defensive side; strong safety and the Sam ‘backer. But, wherever I go, I'm willing to play at whatever position they need me at ... Not a lot of players have the opportunity to get an offer so I cherish these moments.”
Along with his humble approach toward the college interest he’s getting, Moraga is aiming to take good care of himself before the 2016-17 season grind.
“I'm honestly just making sure I'm eating right and preparing my body for the long season," Moraga said. "The on-the-field stuff will come naturally, so I'm focusing on getting in the weight room every day and working on my speed and just working hard to give myself an advantage when the season comes.”
His chief inspiration, though, isn’t in the offers he holds, or his desire to dominate the opposition. It’s embarrassing the people who have told him he’s not good enough.
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“My biggest motivation when it comes to playing is proving people wrong,” Moraga said. “I hate to lose, no matter what it is, I just hate losing. I've faced adversity my whole life and have been put through some pretty tough circumstances, but I've never let it get the best of me. I take pride in accomplishing things that people don't believe I can. I'm very competitive and doing whatever I have to do to get a victory drives me on the field.”