Posted: 3:19 pm Monday, January 14th, 2013
By Matt Porter
On signing day, Diocemy Saint Juste plans to say what few Palm Beach County players have said before:
That’s because the Santaluces running back verbally committed to the University of Hawaii on Sunday while on an official visit.
Saint Juste, a 5-foot-9, 185-pound speedster, first attracted the attention of Hawaii coach Norm Chow in November. After watching his film and verifying a few key details with Santaluces coach Daryl Drinkwater, Chow gave Saint Juste his first FBS scholarship offer.
Soon, a host of other programs followed suit, including Rutgers, Memphis, Bowling Green, Illinois, Nevada, Colorado State, TCU, FAU, FIU, Marshall and UMass.
Taking over as Santaluces’ featured back as a senior, Saint Juste rushed for 1,243 yards and 15 touchdowns. That was despite running behind an offensive line that averaged 5-foot-10 1/2 and 222 pounds.
Reached on Monday, Saint Juste said he fell in love with Hawaii on his visit. With a good fall camp, he could see action at running back or kick returner. And, he’s happy to be moving from South Florida to a true vacation paradise.
“Hawaii is basically the same, except for it has nicer beaches, better hotels and better food, too,” he said.
Saint Juste, who had narrowed his list to Hawaii, Colorado State, Nevada, Bowling Green and Memphis, says he will not take any other official visits.
If his commitment holds, he could be the first Palm Beach County player to suit up for the Warriors since Tumarian “Pooh” Moreland, who played at Palm Beach Lakes.
Moreland, who graduated from Lakes in 2001, played two years at Los Angeles Junior College before signing with Hawaii. Saint Juste plans to leap directly from Florida to Hawaii, a distance of more than 6,000 miles and a 12-hour flight.
“It’s very similar because of the tropical landscape, like in South Florida,” said Moreland, who was a defensive back for two years at Hawaii and is now John I. Leonard’s offensive coordinator. “The biggest adjustment is the time difference.”
Saint Juste said his parents were concerned about the distance, but Chow and his staff made them feel comfortable. “They knew I was in good hands,” he said.
Moreland recalled the short window he had to communicate with loved ones back home, taking Wednesday flights to the mainland to adjust in time for Saturday away games. He remembers dealing with plenty of jet lag.
Saint Juste will learn all that in time. Right now, he’s dealing with more pressing matters, like deciding whether or not it’s cool to wear a Hawaiian shirt and a lei at his signing day ceremony.
Updated Monday, Jan. 14, 2013 at 3:19 p.m.