Wide Receiver Search Stalls

Tennessee's search for an impact wide receiver took another hit when No. 2 rated Vidal Hazelton appeared to all but eliminate the Vols from his list of favorites following an official visit to USC last weekend.

Hazelton visited UT on homecoming weekend (Nov. 11) and reported having a good time, but he preferred the weather, offense and education that USC had to offer. He has visited Virginia Tech and is scheduled to visit Miami this weekend (Nov. 25) He is also expected to take a visit to Florida before making his decision.

"Miami, I can't explain exactly why I like them," Hazelton told Scout.com's Allen Wallace. "There are a bunch of reasons, I just can't explain

. "Florida, they're just a passing team, so I have to go and check them out."

In regard to the schools he has visited, Hazelton told Allen: "Virginia Tech and Tennessee, I had a good time at both of them. Of the visits so far, though, USC is on top. From taking three visits, if I had to choose right now based on those three visits, I'd be going to USC. But, I still have to take my other trips to Florida and Miami."

Originally from Staten Island, N.Y., Hazelton, 6-3, 200, 4.5, played at Hargrave Military Academy this fall, and finished with 41 catches for 922 yards and 13 TDs.

It is probably no comfort, or surprise, to Tennessee fans that the top receiver prospect from the Class of 2005 — Patrick Turner of Nashville Goodpasture — is helping recruit Hazelton for the Trojans. Given the struggles UT's wide receivers had in 2005, the specter of Turner keeps haunting the Vols.

Tennessee won't give up on Hazelton, but a heavier allocation of attention will be focused on No. 7 wideout Tim Hawthorne of Homewood, Ala., No. 12 Bryan Thomas of Zephyrhills, Fla., No. 21 Andrey Baskin of Camden, N.J., No. 32 Riley Cooper of Clearwater, Fla. and No. 43 Ricky Dixon of Reserve, La. The Vols have extended offers to these receivers, all of whom are four-star prospects with the exception of Dixon, who is rated three stars.

Cooper is a particularly interesting prospect given his achievements at Central Catholic High School. He was named all-state wideout and safety the last two seasons and holds the state record for punt and kickoff returns. On offense, Cooper caught 32 passes for 982 yards and 15 touchdowns, compiling a state record average of 30.6 yards per reception. On defense, he recorded 128 tackles and nine interceptions. He could played either side of the ball at the next level, and has narrowed his choices to Florida, Oklahoma State and Tennessee.

Stay tuned for updates.

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