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December 29, 2005

High impact decision

This Friday is decision day for the nation's No. 2 wide receiver, Chatham (Va.) Hargrave Military wide receiver Vidal Hazelton. His decision, which will be aired live on ESPNews at 3:40PM EST, will impact three programs quite a bit, one in a positive manner and two negatively. So what happens with Miami, Southern Cal or Penn State if Hazelton chooses or rejects them? Here's a breakdown, call it the V Factor.

If Hazelton chooses Miami, his longtime favorite and a school he often dreamed of playing for, it would be huge for the 'Canes. There are many rumors out there that Miami isn't a player for Hazelton anymore and that they backed off of him because of academics. It's true that Hazelton didn't have as good a visit at Miami as he did at other places and he still needs his test score to qualify, but the 'Canes would love to have him. He's not nearly as far off from qualifying as rumors state and he has an excellent relationship with future quarterback Pat Devlin.

Miami isn't counting on a commitment from Hazelton and have already moved on when it comes to searching for much-needed wideout help. Their a longshot in this one, but Hazelton is an interesting kid who has been known to change his mind often. If the 'Canes get him, great. If they don't, it certainly hurts since they led for him for so long, but they'll get theirs eventually.

If Hazelton picks Southern Cal, it will certainly help ease the pain of losing Percy Harvin. USC wants to bring in at least two top wide receivers with size this year with Steve Smith and Dwayne Jarrett both likely gone after next season (Smith could be gone this year). USC wants Hazelton to play multiple roles in their offense. At 6-foot-3 and 200 pounds, he could be a dominant outside and red zone receiver a la Mike Williams, but with his 4.5 speed he could also make more happen after the catch and be a deep threat like Smith.

Hazelton's versatility is a huge key for USC since everyone assumes they'll also get huge wideout David Ausberry, who is more one dimensional. If they miss on Hazelton, it will be a down year for the Trojans at wideout because of their goal of getting two top guys with some size as their next targets are smaller and not as physical. USC is also attempting to retain their title as recruiting king against Florida and others and a top 20 player so highly ranked at his position would certainly help.

Despite some impressive freshmen wide receivers, Penn State needs more and wants two top ones in this class. Chris Bell is the first and has excellent speed and can be a deep threat, but he's not overly physical. Hazelton could be a great compliment to Bell with his size, quickness and willingness to go over the middle and make tough catches. Justin King is likely headed back to defense next season which still leaves four solid wideouts in the two-deep, but Derrick Williams is the only one on the same talent level as Hazelton. The big wideout would play early and often for JoePa.

If Penn State misses out on Hazelton, Bell will likely be the only wide receiver in this class for PSU. They'll still have depth and will be very young and talented at wide receiver, but with Hazelton they'll be much more diverse. If Hazelton goes elsewhere, it's not a devastating blow to what appears to be forming as a great class, but it will hurt a bit.

As coaches from Miami, USC and Penn State will, everyone will have to tune in to ESPNews on Friday at 3:40PM EST to see what Hazelton does. And then the shocks waves will be felt.



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