BLACKSBURG — Virginia Tech coach Justin Fuente rarely discusses injuries in detail, but he made an exception on Monday to detail why Damon Hazelton was sidelined in Tech’s 31-17 win over Old Dominion.
Last week, Fuente was optimistic Hazelton would play in Week 2 after missing the opener against Boston College with a hamstring injury.
“It is an interesting deal. I did not intend to mislead you all,” Fuente said. “On Sunday’s practice last week, he looked like a million bucks. When we came out Tuesday, he just wasn’t himself. When I had this meeting last week, I fully intended him playing and having a great Tuesday and he just hasn’t. He’s still trying to get over the same thing.”
Hazelton was in uniform against Boston College and even went through pregame warmups with his teammates before sitting out. The 6-foot-2, 215-pound receiver wasn’t dressed out on Saturday.
“I don’t know how long it’s going to be,” Fuente said. “I kind of stepped out there and felt like he was going to back last week and he wasn’t. That wasn’t deliberate.”
The receiver led the Hokies in all the major receiving categories last season with 51 catches for 802 yards and eight touchdowns last season.
Hazelton’s hamstring issues go back to the end of last season. The receiver was in uniform for games against Virginia and Marshall, but Fuente said at the time he was only available “for emergency kind of use only.”
Phil Patterson and Kaleb Smith have played well in Hazelton’s absence. Patterson had three catches for 44 yards with a touchdown against Old Dominion. It was the first time in his career he had multiple catches in back-to-back weeks. He has five catches for 63 yards on the season.
“I’ve been pleased with Phil,” Fuente said. “He’s had a great summer. Continues to work hard and practice hard. Contributing on special teams and made a couple nice plays as well. It’s just continuing to be disciplined in his technique on a consistent basis — taking care of the ball, getting north and south. He does have some natural ability.”
Smith, who was put on scholarship during fall camp, has six catches for 94 yards this season. While Tech receivers dropped a couple of passes on Saturday, they have been one of Tech’s most consistent position groups through two games.
“Every day, we came out just trying to make each other better,” Smith said during fall camp. “...It’s all just trying to get better as a team. We have a goal for us, trying to be the best receiver corps in the nation. I feel like we can do that.”
Fuente didn’t provide any updates on the other starters that missed Week 2, a list that includes offensive lineman T.J. Jackson, defensive end TyJuan Garbutt and defensive back Jovonn Quillen. Starting center Zachariah Hoyt was dressed, but didn't play because of an injury as well.
Tech tight end Dalton Keene missed much of the second half after getting shaken up at the goal line against Old Dominion, but Fuente said he looked good at Sunday’s practice, Right tackle Silas Dzansi dealt with cramps in the second half, but isn’t expected to miss any time.