STARKVILLE, Miss. - Mississippi State head football coach Dan Mullen announced today the hiring of Manny Diaz and Chris Wilson as assistant coaches, pending approval from the Mississippi Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning. Diaz will serve as defensive coordinator and linebackers coach while Wilson will coach the defensive line and serve as co-defensive coordinator.
"Manny has proven to be a bright defensive mind and will bring an aggressive and exciting style of coaching to our defense. Chris has taught some of the best defensive lines in the Big 12 at Colorado and Oklahoma, and brings a knowledge of the OU defensive system that is one of the best in the nation," head coach Dan Mullen said. "We're excited to welcome both of them to our team and they'll both hit the ground running as we sprint to the finish of the recruiting season."
Diaz comes to Mississippi State after a four-year run at Middle Tennessee. In 2009, Diaz' aggressive defense finished second nationally in tackles for loss and tied for sixth in the country in sacks. The Blue Raiders were ranked in the top three in the Sun Belt Conference in total yards allowed, rushing yards allowed, passing yards allowed and scoring defense.
Wilson spent the past five seasons coaching defensive linemen at Oklahoma, and the Sooners finished last season ranked eighth nationally against the run and also tied for sixth in sacks per game. The Oklahoma defense has finished in the top 10 nationally in rushing defense three times during Wilson's five years on staff.
MANNY DIAZ, Florida State, 1995
One of the bright young defensive minds in collegiate coaching, Diaz comes to Mississippi State following four seasons as defensive coordinator at Middle Tennessee. Diaz, who spent six years at N.C. State before joining the Blue Raiders, also coached linebackers for the two years after mentoring the safeties his first two seasons in Murfreesboro.
In four years under Diaz, the Middle Tennessee defense led its conference in sacks and tackles for loss twice, and finished no lower than third in the league in either category during his tenure. In 2009, the Blue Raiders finished second nationally in tackles for loss, stopping more than eight and a half plays per game behind the line of scrimmage. Diaz' defense also ranked sixth nationally in quarterback sacks last season, posting nearly three per game.
Last season, Diaz tutored defensive end Chris McCoy who was tabbed the Sun Belt Conference co-Defensive Player of the Year. McCoy led the league and ranked sixth nationally in tackles for loss. Safety Jeremy Kellum and cornerbacks Alex Suber and Marcus Udell were also named first team all-SBC. Defensive end Jamari Lattimore along with linebackers Cam Robinson and Danny Carmichael earned second-team honors. Overall, Diaz' unit has produced 17 all-conference players during his time there and put up three of the top four fewest yards allowed averages at Middle Tennessee in its FBS era.
Diaz has been involved in nine bowl games during his 11 years on the collegiate level and played a major role for one of the country's top-ranked defenses by coaching safeties in 2004 and 2005 and handling the linebackers in 2002 and 2003 for North Carolina State, where he coached from 2002-2005.
In 2005, the Wolfpack finished eighth nationally in total defense, sixth in third down percentage, and 12th in scoring defense en route to a 7-5 record and a shutout win over South Florida in the Meineke Car Care Bowl. Diaz, who also served as special teams coordinator, saw his kickoff return unit finish fifth nationally, and his punt return team recorded four blocked kicks.
In his first year as safeties coach and special teams coordinator in 2004, N.C. State's defense finished the year as the top-ranked unit in the country in total defense by allowing just over 220 yards per game. The Wolfpack defense also held national powers Ohio State and Florida State to under 130 yards of total offense during the 2004 campaign. Diaz, who coached All-ACC performer and former New York Jet Andre Maddox, also had his punt return team block three kicks and take two returns for touchdowns.
The Miami, Fla., native handled the linebackers for N.C. State in 2002 and 2003. In 2003, the Wolfpack won the Tangerine Bowl and finished 7-5 with Diaz sharing play-calling duties for all 11 games. Diaz also made all the defensive calls during the bowl win over Kansas.
In his first year as a full-time coach, Diaz helped the Wolfpack to one of their best seasons ever: they finished 11-3 and defeated Notre Dame in the Gator Bowl. Diaz, who coached All-ACC performer Dantonio Burnette, shared in the play-calling duties, and N.C. State ended the year ranked 14th nationally in total defense and 10th in scoring defense. In back-to-back games against Florida State and Notre Dame, N.C. State did not allow an offensive touchdown.
Diaz spent the 2000 and 2001 seasons at N.C. State as a graduate assistant working primarily with the linebacking corps. During this time, the Wolfpack went to two bowl games and became the first ACC team to beat FSU in Tallahassee.
Diaz, whose father recently concluded his second term as mayor of the City of Miami, began his coaching career at Florida State in 1998, working alongside defensive coordinator Mickey Andrews for two seasons. During his stint, the Seminoles won a national championship in 1999 and were runners-up in 1998.
The 1995 Florida State graduate (B.S. in communications) is married to the former Stephanie Cerow and they have three sons, Colin, Gavin, and Manny. Diaz, who worked at ESPN from 1995 to 1997, was a Miami Herald Honorable Mention All-Dade County Scholar-Athlete for football, basketball, and baseball in 1991.
Bachelor's Degree - Florida State, 1995
Born on March 13, 1974 in Miami, Fla.
Married to the former Stephanie Cerow
Children: Colin, Gavin and Manny
2008-09: Middle Tennessee (Defensive Coordinator / Linebackers)
2006-07: Middle Tennessee (Defensive Coordinator / Safeties)
2004-05: NC State (Safeties / Special Teams)
2002-03: NC State (Linebackers)
2000-01: NC State (Graduate Assistant)
1998-99: Florida State (Graduate Assistant)
CHRIS WILSON, Oklahoma, 1992
Chris Wilson will serve as the Mississippi State defensive line coach and co-defensive coordinator after spending the past five years tutoring defensive linemen at his alma mater, Oklahoma. Wilson is a veteran of 15 years coaching at the collegiate level with stints at Indiana State, Northern Illinois, Illinois State, Colorado and Oklahoma.
For the past five seasons, Wilson has coached defensive ends at Oklahoma and for the last three has also served as special teams coordinator. In 2009, Wilson helped mentor a defensive front that finished eighth nationally against the run, allowing only 92 yards per game, and posted the sixth-most sacks in the country. The Sooner defense also finished the season ranked eighth in total defense and seventh in points allowed.
Under Wilson's tutelage, defensive end Jeremy Beal has been named All-Big 12 each of the past two seasons, and led the Sooner defense in tackles for loss and sacks both as a sophomore and as a junior.
In 2007, Wilson helped guide the OU defense to a conference-leading 32 sacks, 15 of which came from his ends. Sophomore Auston English ranked 15th nationally in sacks despite missing three games and was named first team All-Big 12. The year prior, his ends logged 25.5 tackles for loss including 10 sacks.
In 2005, with his top returning starter (Larry Birdine) lost in August and one of his budding stars (John Williams) sidelined in the opener by injuries, he still coached the defensive ends to a brilliant season. C.J. Ah You was named Big 12 Defensive Newcomer of the Year and MVP of the Holiday Bowl, and Calvin Thibodeaux captured postseason honors while leading the team with 10 sacks.
During his tenure in Boulder, Colorado captured the Big 12 North titles three times, and the Buffalos ranked 15th nationally and second in the Big 12 with 33 sacks in 2004.
Wilson also coached on the Illinois State squad that captured the Gateway Conference title and advanced to the NCAA Division I-AA semifinals in 1999. That season marked the only time that the Redbirds accomplished those feats.
Prior to his two-year stint at Illinois state, Wilson also served as linebackers coach at Indiana State in 1997, defensive coordinator at Northeastern Oklahoma A&M in 1996, linebackers coach at Northern Illinois in 1995 and at Indiana State in 1994.
Bachelor's Degree - Oklahoma, 1992
Born on January 8, 1969 in Dallas, Texas
Children: Caleb and Colby
2007-09: Oklahoma (Special Teams Coordinator / Defensive Ends)
2005-06: Oklahoma (Defensive Ends)
2000-04: Colorado (Defensive Line)
2000 (spring): Army (Defensive Line)
1998-99: Illinois State (Defensive Line)
1997: Indiana State (Linebackers / Recruiting Coordinator)
1996: Northeastern Oklahoma A&M (Defensive Coordinator / Defensive Line)
1995: Northern Illinois (Linebackers)
1994: Indiana State (Linebackers)
1993: Indiana State (Graduate Assistant)