The first time Brian Robiskie met his Ohio State receivers coach, Darrell Hazell, something stood out.
“I wondered why he always had everything tucked in,” the former Buckeye said of Hazell.
Robiskie would soon figure it out. Hazell has a straight-laced, no-nonsense approach, but it’s to make his players successful. Robiskie, a five-year NFL veteran now with the Detroit Lions, still maintains a close relationship with Hazell.
“I think Coach Hazell was definitely one of the most influential people in my life,” said Robiskie. “It’s a lot further than just a coach.
“He always took an interest in what you were doing off the field, what you were doing in the classroom, in how you were carrying yourself. He took on that father role because it’s a lot more than football to him.”
Hazell has since moved on from Ohio State. First, he became Kent State’s head coach, leading the program to an 11-win season in just two years. In December, he was named Purdue’s new head coach.
When Robiskie learned of the news, he was thrilled for is former receivers coach. He believes Hazell will be successful with the Boilermakers.
“That was a big step,” Robiskie said. “He can’t fail. He works hard and does things the right way. Those kinds of guys sell themselves. This is a bigger opportunity for him but he’s going to take on the task and be successful.”
Robiskie immediately felt a close relationship with Hazell because of the common goals and drive they shared. The coach and receiver were willing to work hard.
“That’s one of the reasons that we really got along,” said Robiskie. “We both kind of realized that work ethic and consistency, that’s how you win games—and that’s how you get better in life, with whatever you’re trying to do.”
At Ohio State, Hazell coached six Buckeyes who would reach the NFL. However, Robiskie remembers the way Hazell coached everyone, not just his position.
“He commanded the respect of the entire team,” Robiskie said. “He was not one of those guys that you would say, ‘OK, let’s just be the receivers coach and we’ll leave it at that,’ Coach Hazell was one of the really great coaches there.
“He’s going to make you a better player. He’s going to take the time—whatever it needs to be—to help you reach your goal.”
Robiskie remains optimistic Hazell will win at Purdue, and will be one of his strongest supporters along the way.
“I’m forever indebted to Coach Hazell,” he said. “We still talk and have a great relationship. I have as much faith in him as everyone else. He’s going to be successful, because that’s what he prides himself on being.”
For more on Darrell Hazell, look for a long-form story on Boiler Sports Report, coming later this week.