MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Receiver Isaiah Hazel, once West Virginia’s top-rated commitment in the 2019 class, announced Wednesday that he will attend Maryland.
Hazel’s flip was expected. The Upper Marlboro, Md. native’s interest in his home-state school was rekindled when the Terrapins hired Alabama offensive coordinator Mike Locksley for the head coaching position on Dec. 4. Locksley, a Washington, D.C. native, was recruiting Hazel for Alabama before the receiver committed to West Virginia in late July.
Hazel’s hometown is only 20 miles from the Maryland campus. On top of that, Locksley has been long acquainted with Hazel’s high school coach, DaLawn Parrish. Parrish attended Locksley’s introductory press conference on Dec. 6, and said the two have known each other more than 20 years.
“It’s a great day for Maryland football when we finally get a person that understands the culture and diversity of our state to lead the brand,” Parrish told Rivals.com when Locksley was hired.
Hazel tweaked West Virginia with his Twitter announcement, writing “take me home where I belong” before adding emojis of a winking face and a turtle – Maryland’s mascot. Those words, of course, are lyrics to John Denver’s “Country Roads,” played after every win at Mountaineer Field.
take me home where i belong. 😉🐢
— Isaiah Hazel (@Thats__zay) December 12, 2018
The 6-foot-1, 190-pound receiver was a four-star recruit who had the highest overall rating in WVU’s prospective class. That distinction now belongs to four-star safety Osita Smith, another Maryland native.
The Mountaineers were already preparing for a future that did not include Hazel. On Monday, West Virginia added a commitment from three-star receiver Terence Doston of Tampa, Fla.
This weekend, the focus turns to official visitor Ali Jennings.
Unlike the smaller, speedier Doston, the 6-foot-2, 186-pound Jennings fits Hazel’s on-field mold. Jennings is a three-star recruit from Highland Springs, Va., who has also had heavy interest from Georgia Tech and Temple – two programs in the midst of coaching changes.
A third receiver, Winston Wright, is committed to the Mountaineers. Wright, a 5-foot-11, 154-pound target from Savannah, Ga., is now WVU’s top-rated receiver commit.
With Hazel’s departure, West Virginia has 15 commitments for 23 available scholarships. The early signing period opens Dec. 19. WVU is expected to keep several spots open for potential transfers, a practice that has benefitted the program in Dana Holgorsen’s tenure.
The Mountaineers’ prospective signing class is currently ranked 48th nationally and sixth in the Big 12 by Rivals.