Hazel excels at East-West Shrine game

  • Thursday, January 30, 2014

AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack East receiver Matt Hazel (84), of Coastal Carolina, tosses the ball after making a catch for a touchdown during the first half of the East-West Shrine Classic NCAA football game in St. Petersburg, Fla., on Saturday, Jan. 18.



Matt Hazel is one step closer to his dream.


Hazel, a former North Augusta High School star, participated in the 89th annual East-West Shrine game in St. Petersburg, Fla.


“The all-star game was a great experience first and foremost with the children of the Shriners Hospital,” Hazel said. “Just seeing them was blessing for me.”


On the field, Hazel caught a touchdown pass in the game, but considered his work in practice the most important aspect of the week. Hazel, is considered a “small school” player coming from Coastal Carolina and was able to showcase his skills against FBS level competition.


“Just being around the players and the coaches who were in the NFL was a great experience (for me),” he said. “I think I had a great week of practice going up against the FBS guys. It improved the level of competition, especially being a so called “small school” guy.”


The former Jacket was targeted three times in the game, coming away with one reception and a touchdown.


“The game really didn’t matter as much, because I had a great week of practice and that’s what the scouts wanted to see,” he said. “The whole process was great, from talking to scouts, being around the team and meeting some new friends.”


Now that the East-West Shrine game is over, Hazel will turn his focus to full-time training for the NFL Combine and the NFL Draft.


“Next thing is training in Florida for the NFL combine,” he said. “Scouts were very intrigued to see what I do at the combine and go from there.”


The NFL Combine will take place from Feb. 19 through 25 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Ind. The wide receiver specific portion of the NFL Combine will take place on Feb. 23.


T.J. Lundeen is a reporter for the North Augusta Star. Follow him on Twitter @lundeentj for more updates.


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