Coastal Carolina’s Hazel looking to shock world at NFL combine

For The Sun NewsFebruary 21, 2014 

— Matt Hazel said he wants to shock the world.

“I want to show that a guy from a small school can do everything the players from the big FBS schools can do,” the former Coastal Carolina wide receiver said Friday at the NFL combine. “But the main reason is just to help my draft stock.”

The 6-foot-1, 198-pound Hazel is one of two Coastal Carolina players at the combine, along with running back Lorenzo Taliaferro. Both players met with the media on Friday and will go through their on-field workouts Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium.

“Matt is a hard worker and a good football player, but he’s a better person,” Taliaferro said of Hazel. “We had the same major, sociology, so I’ve spent a lot of time with him. He works hard and I admire his work ethic. It was good playing with him.”

Hazel and Taliaferro had dinner together their first night in Indianapolis and talked about the excitement of being at the combine.

“It’s a blessing, man,” said Hazel, a North Augusta native and three-team All-Big South Conference selection.

Hazel transitioned from quarterback Aramis Hillary, whom Hazel said pushed him to get better, to sophomore Alex Ross, whose work ethic had the two running drills in the rain following a loss to Old Dominion.

“He demanded the best from me,” Hazel said of Ross. “He said I was his go-to guy. We had that connection and trusted each other.”

The two connected for 70 receptions and 990 yards with nine touchdowns last season.

Hazel, who is expected to run a 40-yard dash in the 4.4-second range on Sunday, prides himself as a smooth route runner with good speed. He was also a durable and reliable player who started 39 games in college. When asked about his strengths, Hazel says he has great hands and ball skills and is underrated as a downfield blocker. While he considers himself to be a good route runner, he does admit that he can improve when coming out of breaks.

Following an excellent week at the East-West Shrine Game, Hazel received an invitation to participate in the Senior Bowl. Because of a tight hamstring, Hazel declined the invite, but hopes to again prove to scouts at the combine that he can compete with players from larger schools.

“Just being up against the bigger schools, I was confident I could do well,” Hazel said Friday. “There was a little bit of jitters, but that week definitely helped me out catching passes from great quarterbacks like Jordan Lynch, Jimmy Garoppolo and Jeff Mathews; they got me the ball and I was able to make plays in practice. I know scouts were very impressed with that.”

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