Diaz will serve as the Chanticleer wide receivers coach
Under Diaz, Coastal has thrived across the wide receiver positions as well as the punt and kick returning areas. Players under Diaz have set the CCU single-season record for receptions in each of his first three seasons while the kick and punt returning records have been established. In fact, five of CCU’s top seven on the career receptions list have been coached by Diaz.
In year one (2012) with Diaz — and for the first time in CCU history — three Chanticleer receivers caught at least 40 passes as Matt Hazel tied a school record with 61 receptions, Niccolo Mastromatteo had 47 receptions and DeMario Bennett had 43 to rank third and fourth, respectively, on the CCU single-season list. All three additionally ranked among the league’s top six in receiving yards per game. In addition, Mastromatteo led the Big South and ranked 13th nationally in punt returns (11.36 avg.) while Tre Henderson led the Big South and ranked 13th nationally in kick returns (27.14 avg.). Hazel would earn first team All-Big South and Mastromatteo earned a pair of league honors, being a first team selection as a punt returner and second team as a wide receiver.
In 2013, Hazel broke his own CCU single-season mark with 70 receptions – for 990 yards and nine scores – while a total of six players had at least 20 receptions. Hazel, who earned first team All-Big South, would go on to play in the East-West Shrine Game, earn an invitation to the NFL Combine and be drafted in the sixth round by the Miami Dolphins. Bennett added second team All-Big South honors, catching 40 passes for 688 yards, and set a CCU record with an 87-yard touchdown reception to help Coastal defeat Montana in the second round of the playoffs. Mastromatteo, who caught 35 passes for 386 yards, was named second team All-Big South as a punt returner while Devin Brown earned Freshman All-American and first team All-Big South honors as a kick returner, ranking second in the league and 35th nationally with a 24.3 return average.
Bruce Mapp carried Hazel’s torch for the 2014 season, establishing a CCU record with 71 receptions in just 14 games. Mapp joined John Israel on the All-Big South second team while the two, along with Tyrell Blanks, became the second trio of wide receivers to have at least 40 receptions in a season. The group also accounted for 16 of CCU’s 20 passing TDs. Brown was tabbed first team All-Big South again as he shattered the CCU record with 808 kick return yards including TDs of 99 and 98 yards. Brown ranked 10th in the FCS with his average of 27.9 yards per return and is juts one of three player in Big South history with three career kick returns for touchdowns.
Diaz came to Coastal after spending the 2011 season at Georgetown University, serving as the wide receivers coach with former Hoya and current Chanticleer offensive coordinator Dave Patenaude.
Diaz joined the Hoyas’ staff after spending the previous three seasons (2008-10) on the coaching staff at Delaware State University, with current CCU recruiting coordinator Mike Gallagher. Diaz served as the Hornets’ running backs coach as well as coaching the kickoff and punt returners. At Delaware State, Diaz worked with Larrone Moore who led Division I FCS with a kick return average of 34.80 yards per return in 2010. He also coached Travis Tarpley, who was 10th in the nation averaging 26.33 yards per return in 2009.
Prior to his time with the Hornets, Diaz spent three seasons (2005-07) coaching running backs and tight ends, while serving as the recruiting coordinator at Florida A&M. He helped running back Phillip Sylvester become the 2007 MEAC Rookie of the Year, rushing for 858 yards on 151 carries (5.68 yards/carry), as he led the MEAC and finished 17th in the nation, averaging 164.3 all-purpose rushing yards per game as a freshman. Diaz also helped tight end Taj Jenkins earn All-MEAC First Team. In 2005, he helped Rashard Pompey lead the MEAC in rushing (110.7 yards per game) and rush for 1,107 yards on 194 carries (5.71 yards/carry).
Diaz worked as the running back and special teams coach at Widener University for the 2004 season, helping the kickoff return units rank 11th in the nation with 23.3 yards per return and two touchdowns. He was the wide receivers coach at Christopher Columbus Catholic High School in Miami, Fla., in 2003 after assisting the New York Jets offensive staff during training camp in 2003.
He served as the running backs coach at Florida International University for two seasons, from 2001-03. At FIU, Diaz coached RB Rashod Smith to a spot on the Division I-AA All-Independent First Team. Prior to his time at FIU, Diaz spent the 2000 season at Columbia University, where he helped Johnathan Reese become the first RB in school history to top the 1,000 yard mark and a unanimous Ivy League First Team selection. Diaz began his coaching career at his alma mater, the University of South Florida, in 1996 as an offensive assistant. He rose to the position of tight ends coach, special teams coordinator and recruiting coordinator for the 1998 and 1999 seasons. Diaz coached kicker Bill Gramatica to become USF’s first All-American and a fourth round draft choice by the Arizona Cardinals. In 1999, his punt return unit ranked eighth in the I-AA in net punting, while his kickoff return unit ranked 12th in the nation with 22.3 yards per return. In 1998, his punt return unit ranked first in the nation in total return yards against, limiting opponents to a season total of 30 yards.
Diaz, a Habana, Cuba native, was raised in Miami, Fla. and graduated from USF in 1983 with his Bachelor of Science in geology. Diaz also graduated from the NCAA Advanced Coaching Academy in 2005 and the Expert Coaching Academy in 2007. Diaz and his wife Patricia were married in June 2010 and the two have four grandchildren, Avery, Jermiah, Izra and Miriam.