The Minnesota Vikings have added another former head coach to the staff; only this time, it’s the former head coach of a college program. According to reports from Alex Marvez and Sporting News, Darrell Hazel will serve as the team’s wide receivers coach starting in 2017.
News broke late Thursday afternoon, but offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur confirmed the news on Friday. As Matt Vensel pointed out, Shurmur discussed the hire in an interview with Paul Allen at WinterFest.
“His background is really in receiver play,” Shurmur said. “He went on to become the head coach at Kent State and Purdue. But when we sat down and visited with him, we just felt like he’s a guy who can come in and teach our receivers extremely well.”
Hazel last coached at Purdue University, where he went 9-33 (.220) as head coach from 2013 to 2016. Before his stint with the Boilermakers, Hazel led Kent State to an 11-2 record in 2012. Although he coached wide receivers for many programs, his longest tenure came under Jim Tressel at Ohio State — Hazel was the wide receivers coach and later, the associate head coach from 2004 to 2010.
Unlike George Stewart, longtime receivers coach with the Vikings and now special teams coordinator with the Los Angeles Chargers, Hazel arrives in Minnesota with a sole focus on coaching wide receivers. Stewart’s coached some of the best wide receivers in NFL history, but his passion, according to the Chargers’ official website, has always been with special teams.
“I think he took a shot in the dark because I haven’t done it in 17 years,” Stewart said following his hire by new Chargers coach Anthony Lynn. “That is a long time, but if I had a first love, it would be the kicking game. So now I’m coming full circle, and I’m eager to get started with (Assistant Special Teams Coach) Marquice (Williams).”
Hazel’s new position with the Vikings will be his first in the NFL. The 52-year-old, according to Shurmur, impressed the Minnesota staff in recent interviews. As the roster stands now, he’ll have plenty of weapons to sharpen and mold to his liking in Stefon Diggs, Adam Thielen, Cordarrelle Patterson, and Laquon Treadwell.