USC football: Program-wide reaction to Hazelton’s departure

Reactions from USC players and coaches after junior receiver Vidal Hazelton filed the paperwork to transfer from the school:

Receiver Brandon Carswell:

(on whether Hazelton ever talked about leaving) “Not about leaving. Sometimes he would be like, ‘Man, I just need to work harder. Something’s going on to where I’m not playing.’ It’s just really surprising, though.”

(on whether he’s sad to see Hazleton go) “Oh yeah, definitely. We’re all brothers. It’s going to be really hard to replace a guy like that. He was really a playmaker. He came out here and worked hard.”

Defensive end Kyle Moore:

(on what he said to Hazelton on Tuesday) “I just told him I’m going to miss him.”

(on whether this signifies a trend in the program after Broderick Green also left) “No. People transfer from everywhere. … I hate to see him go, but you gotta do what you gotta do.”

Offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian:

(on why Hazelton lost playing time) “Everything on this field is based on competition. We try to play the guys that have competed and are doing things right on a consistent basis. That’s where the chips fell.”

(on how injuries affected Hazleton) “None of those things helped. When you’re healthy and you’re feeling good, it’s a lot easier to come out and battle. When you’ve got a nick here, a nick there, an illness here, a something there, it hinders your ability to compete on a daily basis, on a consistent basis.”

Quarterback Mark Sanchez:

(on whether anything was different about Hazelton this season) “He was injured early, with the ankle injury. That didn’t really help. In the end it was his decision. He’s taken off, and we wish him the best. It’s too bad. He’s a good player. He’s going to be good wherever he goes.”

(on whether it’s disheartening to lose another player) “It happens. Guys compete so much … if they can’t do it anymore, then maybe this isn’t the right spot for them. There’s always going to be good guys here.”

WR coach John Morton:

(on whether he was suprised Hazelton left) “A little bit. We’ve been working on some things. We thought he was improving.”

(on how Hazelton handled falling down the depth chart) “He was a No. 1 guy. When you lose your starting spot, obviously you struggle with it. It’s my job to help him through that, help him fight through adversity, help him along, just to keep fighting. He was a competitor. Competitors fight. It’s just that he was fighting, and other guys were making plays. We’ve got to play the guys who are playing the best.”

(on Hazelton’s frustratio level because of the injuries) “Vidal was a physical player, so there was always something he was getting. That’s hard for a player. You’ve got to fight through it. … Not only do you lose your starting role, you’re getting injured, there’s a lot of things you’ve got to fight through. … It was my job to help him through certain things. It’s how he responds to it. He struggled in the beginning, but then he came along and started fighting.”

(on how hard it is to see Hazelton leave after investing so much time in him) “We did invest a lot of time. You put all that hard work into it, and you want to see a kid succeed. You don’t want to see anybody let go. That was one of the frustrating things. When you work hard, you want to see some results. Again, when the guys in front of him are making plays, when you get an opportunity you have to take advantage of it. And if you don’t, you stay status quo.”

Coach Pete Carroll:

(on whether Hazelton’s decision surprised him) “Just timing-wise maybe a little bit. But it’s best at this point, with all that’s going on here, that he isn’t with us now. It could have gone the other way. It’s hard on him. I noticed also with Broderick when his deal came up, it’s hard for the guys to stay in it and stay focused (when they’re not playing). They think they can, but it’s difficult. … Hopefully it’ll turn out well. He’s a very good football player. He’s a tough kid, and a great, competitive kid.”

(on whether Morton pushed for Hazleton to play more) “Yeah, he was always fighting. These guys fight for all their guys. They want all the play time they can get. They know the competitive kids need to be out there. We tried the best we could. But sometimes other guys take spots away. That’s part of the competition of this program. It’s tough to be here. It’s a challenge to be here. Sometimes it might be better for somebody to go somewhere else, particularly when they have other issues, too, that coincide.”

(on how Hazelton handled his fall down the depth chart) “He battled. He fought and battled. Then he encountered one issue after another injury-wise and couldn’t get back out here on a steady basis. … He didn’t have a good, constant run at getting back out there. He kept having to take a step backward to heal, and other guys kept rolling. It’s just competition. A lot of factors enter in. You get banged up and you lose your turn, other guys fill in. … That’s how it goes. I love that aspect of our program. We continue to promote the competitive side of it. Guys continue to battle for what they get. Everything counts. Our guys are into it. Our guys understand it. It’s why we have such good practices and we hold can hold such a level of performance. To me, practice is everything. There’s much more time spent out here, showing where you fit in, who you are and what you’re all about.”

More from the USC blog:

Kyle Bunch

Partnerships for R/GA Ventures. Raised in California, adopted by Texas. Opinions expressed here are mine and they are fantastic.

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