Coastal’s Hazel lands spot in East-West Shrine Bowl

ccufoot-hazelleapAfter setting the Coastal Carolina records for single-season and career receptions, Coastal Carolina receiver Matt Hazel has accepted an invitation to play in the 89th annual East-West Shrine game. The game will be played Jan. 18, 2014 at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla., and telecast on the NFL Network.

Hazel (North Augusta, S.C.) becomes the third Chanticleer to play in the prestigious game with current Minnesota Viking Jerome Simpson (2008) and current Carolina Panther Josh Norman (2012) and the fourth player from the Big South as current Phoenix Cardinal Justin Bethel (Presbyterian) joined Norman on the 2012 squad.

The East-West Shrine Game is the longest running college all-star game in the country. A staple in college football since 1925, the game has consistently proven to be a launch pad for players seeking professional careers in the NFL. More than 100 players from the 88th East-West Shrine Game signed with professional football teams in 2013. On average, more than 275 East-West Shrine Game alumni are on NFL rosters each year.

Hazel caught a CCU season-best 70 passes in helping the Chanticleers post a 12-3 record and reach the quarterfinals of the 2013 NCAA Division I Championship. He finished with 990 yards and nine touchdowns, which tied for the Big South lead. As a junior, Hazel tied Simpson’s previous CCU record with 63 receptions as Coastal reached the second round of the FCS playoffs. Hazel had three games with at least 100 receiving yards and owns five of the school’s top 14 single-game performances for his career.

For his career, Hazel caught a CCU record 183 passes for 2,553 yards – second to Simpson’s 2,720 yards from 2004-07. Hazel also set a CCU record by catching 3.73 passes per game for his career while his 28 career touchdown receptions ranks second on the CCU all-time list, his 29 total TDs scored ranks fourth and his 30 TDs responsible for ranks eighth. (Hazel had a 24-yard rushing TD versus VMI this season and completed a 21-yard TD versus Gardner-Webb in 2011.) Hazel additionally finished his career sixth on the CCU all-time list for all-purpose yards with 2,573 and sixth for total points scored with 176.

Among active FCS players, Hazel’s 28 career TD receptions ranked third, his 2,553 receiving yards ranked 4th and his 183 career receptions ranked sixth.

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