As if losing the game wasn’t bad enough.
Now Cincinnati must also deal with the loss of wideout Vidal Hazelton. The receiver tore his ACL on a kickoff return midway through the game against Fresno State and will miss the remainder of 2010.
For those who don’t know Hazelton’s story, his football career has been full of twists and turns, and this latest setback is truly disappointing. Though a senior, Hazelton was playing his first season with the Bearcats. After the 2008 season, he transferred from USC and was forced to sit out all of 2009 as a result. The game against Fresno was his first in a Bearcats uniform, so to have it also be his last of the year is gut-wrenching.
UC fans were looking forward to a big season from the talented Hazelton. Expectations have been high ever since he elected to join the team, and the entire program was merely waiting for his waiting period to end so he could begin contributing on the field. It now appears that the waiting game will continue.
Coach Butch Jones said that while Hazelton was “down” about his injury, the team hopes that he will be able to bounce back. It’s possible that the NCAA could grant the 6’3″ receiver an additional year of eligibility because his injury occurred so early in the season.
Before exiting the game, Hazelton pulled in 6 catches for 63 yards. Marcus Barnett will reportedly take over in Hazelton’s absence. Barnett, whose biggest year came in 2007, is a senior with 102 career grabs. As a freshman he had 62 catches for 862 yards and 13 touchdowns, indicating his potential for production. Cincy will need him to step up in 2010.