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February 23, 2006

The final piece: USC lands Hazelton

The long ordeal of Chatham (Va.) Hargrave Military wide receiver Vidal Hazelton is over. In what became an intense recruiting battle until the end, Pete Carroll and the Southern Cal Trojans got their man.

"I'm signing the letter and faxing it to coach Carroll now," said Hazelton's father, Dexter, earlier today. "Vidal wanted to go there and I could tell from his visit to Penn State that he'd be happier at Southern Cal."

Sources have confirmed that the letter was received by USC with both signatures.

Dexter and Carroll have had their differences during Vidal's recruitment. But all of that is in the past according to the elder Hazelton.

"Pete Carroll and I are fine, I think he's going to prove me wrong," said Dexter, who had called Carroll a "shark" and was concerned about his son's academics out at Southern Cal. "I've stressed how important it is to me when it comes to academics. Vidal thinks Southern Cal is the best place for him to get where he wants to be, which is the NFL. I want to make sure he gets an education as well."

The Hazelton family had been in favor of Penn State over the last few weeks. Dexter Hazelton refused to sign Vidal's Letter of Intent to USC on Signing Day. A recruit must be over 21-years-old to sign a letter himself. Hazelton turned 18 days before Signing Day.

"It was too rushed," he said. "I just felt Vidal wasn't sure. He had changed his mind so much throughout the process and even in the days leading up, so I wanted him to prove to me that he wanted to go there. To his credit, he was patient and dealt with it all well, but it was clear that USC was his favorite."

The 6-foot-3, 198-pounder is ranked as the No. 2 wide receiver in the country and the No. 7 player overall. He's the highest-ranked commitment for Carroll and his staff and cements is a key to their third straight No. 1 recruiting class. Dexter is glad to have it over with.

"I think Vidal will be fine out there and he fits in," he said. "Vidal is a Hollywood kind of kid, he has that personality. He'll fit in well with the team and he'll enjoy the attention. And coach Carroll and I are on the same page when it comes to his studies."

Vidal is expected to comment on the situation on Friday at 12 PM EST at Hargrave Military Academy.



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