It has been a long journey for Vidal Hazelton (6-4, 200, 4.5), until recently the name and face of Staten Island (N.Y.) Moore Catholic. However, as reported by Bob Lichtenfels of Scout.com Hazelton has decided to embark on a change, one that will take his star status from the tri-state area southward to Hargrave Military Academy (Va.) for his senior season.
It was during the middle of this past winter that Hazelton's name began to surface as one of the possible gems of the 2006 class. As it is, it is not very often that a player receives a half dozen offers from colleges across the country as much as one year before letter of intent day. But such was the case with Hazelton, as several schools showed interest early and pulled the trigger in hopes of impressing the young man with their early interest.
As winter ended and the snow melted away the spring months came and combine and camping season was now underway. One of the more prestigious events held across America was the Elite College Combine in New Jersey (Randolph, NJ), where greater than 100 college coaches assembled to look upon some of the East's top football talent. Those that came to see Vidal Hazelton were not disappointed.
Already having numerous scholarship offers in hand Vidal set out to prove that he wasn't just another local guy and could mix it up with anyone that wanted to challenge him.
"I already had a lot of scholarships and I was talking with my dad about going [to the Elite] and we decided that I would go. I did really well there and afterwards a whole lot of attention started to come my way. The schools from Florida all started to recruit me, Tennessee, all the big schools started coming hard," stated Hazelton.
It was hard to ignore his accomplishments. After securing a 4.04 sec. shuttle at the Nike-Penn State Combine, Hazelton firmly established himself as one of the top overall prospects in the country with his Elite College Combine performance.
Garnering offensive MVP Honors was just the next in a long line of accomplishments for Hazelton. And the interest, from colleges and universities all across the country, would now pour in, unrelenting.
With the hustle and bustle of the summer season now upon him, finding time to train and prepare for his senior season was no easy feat.
We asked Vidal to take us through his typical, non-camping day.
"Well, I'll wake up and I'll eat some cereal. I'll have some Captain Crunch. Then I'll head over to the computer for a while and look at Scout.com," continued Hazelton. "Then I typically like to check out the NFL Channel and see what they have on."
Indeed, for those that are wondering, Hazelton's passion for the game doesn't extend to just his HS career and his college recruitment. It is an ongoing passion for him, the game of football. He frequently checks out old films, trying to learn a little bit from everywhere.
"I'll usually head over to practice at 5:00 p.m. I'll focus on running and improving my speed, running routes, catching, I try to catch as many balls as I can every day." An arduous practice session, as often as time permits during the summer camping season, typically lasts more than three and one half hours per session.
It is precisely this type of dedication to improving his craft, both physically and mentally that has cemented Vidal Hazelton as the nation's top WR.
Though Hazelton is being wooed by a number of the elite programs across the country, he has not lost touch with the school that was there from day one - Rutgers.
As we reported during our coverage of the Rutgers camp Hazelton surprised those in attendance by dropping by for an impromptu guest appearance.
"We got there kind of later in the day and we were just watching some of the stuff they were running on the field. I was just watching and looking and taking everything in but I didn't participate," stated Hazelton.
"I've been to Rutgers three or four times. I went to their Junior Day earlier in the year. I think Rutgers has the best facilities out there. Everybody has good facilities but Rutgers has some of the best I have seen."
With Vidal's transfer to Hargrave Military Academy (Va.) he will no longer have the option to to decide on a whim to drive down to the school from nearby Staten Island. Does that eliminate the Scarlet Knights from contention?
"No it doesn't. I will still consider Rutgers. I gave out my top schools, my favorites, but that doesn't mean that I am ruling anybody out. I am still considering everyone right now," stated Hazelton.
Rutgers Coach Joe Susan is recruiting Hazelton for the State University of New Jersey. And it is due to the relationship that Coach Susan has established with one of the premiere players in the nation that has allowed Rutgers to remain in the hunt for Hazelton's services.
"Coach Susan, he is a real nice guy. When we talk we don't even talk about recruiting, we just talk about everyday things. He writes me a lot of notes and we keep in touch pretty often. I consider him to be a friend."
"The same way that Coach Susan is with me is the same way that the entire [Rutgers] staff is with me. They just say it like it is and are a really honest staff."
A very important part of Hazelton's impending decision on his future collegiate choice will be Mr. Hazelton, Vidal's father.
"I owe everything to him, without him I wouldn't be here. He did everything for me, even putting together my highlight tapes and sending them out to colleges."
Hazelton is set to join his new teammates at HMA this upcoming Thursday and will begin preparation for his first High School game in Virginia on August 26th. "I'm going there because I have to get more focused on my academics and I have to get used to the idea of being away from home. Going there will give me a good chance to get prepared for the next level."
Before letting Vidal go, we could not omit asking him his thoughts on Scarlet Knight commitment Edmond Laryea. Laryea, now up to 210-pounds, committed to Rutgers on Saturday, July 16th.
He's a real good player and a real hard worker. He works out real hard in the weight room and is always trying to improve himself. Rutgers got themselves a real blue chip with him.
Mike and the Big Dog LLC