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Tuesday, August 19, 2014
Matt Hazel is living out his childhood dream.
The former North Augusta High School and Coastal Carolina University standout is in training camp with the Miami Dolphins, working to make the 53-man regular season roster.
“It’s tough, busy – it’s a grind,” the sixth-round draft pick said. “It’s tough mentally; there’s a lot I have to see on every play. It’s not just running your route and catching the ball. I’m just trying to get better every day.”
Hazel has played in two preseason games for the Dolphins, against the Atlanta Falcons and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He has one catch in the preseason for 5 yards.
“It’s crazy and is a dream come true,” he said of realizing his NFL dream. “When I put on that uniform, I knew I’d made it. It was such an amazing feeling.”
For later round draft picks, making an NFL roster is tough.
Hazel has worked on his craft as a wide receiver and has put an added emphasis on special teams to help his cause.
“I’m hoping special teams will put me over the top to make the final roster,” he said. “I’m really working on special teams to help the team. As a receiver, I’m just working on my technique and trying to get better every day.”
Although he performed at an exceptional level in college, earning First-team All Big South honors in 2012 and 2013, and setting Coastal Carolina records for single season and career receptions, Hazel is still having to adjust to the NFL game.
“The speed is incredible,” he said.
“It seems like everybody out here runs a 4.0 (40-yard dash). I’m adjusting to it, but that’s a big difference. Also, the film work and what we do at practice are so different. We harp on technique and where linebackers are. We have to recognize what the safeties and corners are doing in their technique pre-snap. There’s a lot to learn.”
To solidify his place on the roster, Hazel is soaking up all of the coaching he can, on offense and special teams.
“I’ve got to keep getting better on offense and special teams,” he said. “On special teams, I’m working with the second team and with the third team receivers, so special teams is where I’ve got a chance right now. I’ve got to get better at everything – route running, my technique, everything.”
The Miami Dolphins will take on the Dallas Cowboys on Saturday at 7 p.m. at Sun Life Stadium. The game will be televised by CBS.
T.J. Lundeen is a reporter for The North Augusta Star. Follow him on Twitter @lundeentj for more updates.