When Leonard Hazewood joined the Idaho program this spring, a 6-foot-4, 240-pound imposing JC transfer out of Sierra College, he made the kind of immediate impact that junior college transfers are expected to make. In fact, he probably exceeded expectations.
Almost immediately he seized the top spot on the newly created BUCK linebacker position in first-year defensive coordinator Mike Breske's new-look Idaho defense. Battling Hazewood for the top spot was Kevin Shelton, a 6-foot-3, 265-pounder making the transition back over to the defensive side of the ball after working with the offense the previous two years. The two battled throughout spring and the competition was intense.
Heading into fall camp it appeared the BUCK position would be well manned.
But Hazewood has been sidelined by an injury throughout fall camp and hasn't played in a game yet, and the latest indications are that he will be redshirting the 2015 season. Shelton, an excellent athlete, has had to go wire-to-wire in the three games he has played in this fall given the loss of Hazewood in the rotation. But Shelton missed Idaho's last game, a loss at Arkansas State, and is questionable for this week's tilt at Troy.
Junior college transfer tightend Khalin Smith, a 6-foot-5, 245-pound athlete, is expected to jump over to the defensive side of the ball at Troy Saturday (12:30pm PT kickoff, ESPN3). Having rotated in at TE in Idaho's first five games, Smith may see duty on both sides of the ball for the Vandals this weekend.
Without Hazewood this season the BUCK position has also been filled by a couple different linebackers in the rotation; senior Marc Milan and grayshirt freshman Kaden Elliss. Ideally Shelton will be able to get reps Saturday, with Smith and Milan spelling him in the rotation against the Trojans.
BACK IN THE FOLD: The Vandal passing attack may get a welcome boost this week as sophomore speedster David Ungerer practiced this week for the first time since leaving the season opener early in the first quarter with an injury. Ungerer was considered one of Idaho's top three receivers going into the season, and his return would be a welcome addition to Idaho's passing game.