Hakim's Been Through Worse -- Aztec Star Excels Amid Distractions

The questions were too easy. Az-zahir Hakim knew the tough ones, the ones he no longer answers, would come eventually.

The media have been tougher this season on Hakim than any opponent, a scenario that was replayed yesterday at Husky Stadium after San Diego State's 36-3 loss to third-ranked Washington.

Hakim torched the Husky secondary for 108 yards on seven receptions. He burned Jermaine Smith. He burned Mel Miller. And he made several Huskies crash foolishly into each other trying to tackle him.

"He's a quarterback's dream," said San Diego State quarterback Kevin McKechnie. "He's an All-American player. He makes plays, just like he did today."

Plays. Good or bad, that's what Hakim wanted to talk about. Even his first-half fumble on the Huskies' 1-yard line would have been easier to discuss than the rape accusation that turned this on-field star into a cautious, unwilling interview.

The 5-foot-10, 175-pound senior lowered his eyes and shook his head as the question finally was asked.

"No comment" is all he'd say.

Hakim and two San Diego State teammates were arrested on rape charges the week before fall practice began and held on $1 million bail for 24 hours before charges were dropped because of insufficient evidence.

Tests showed a DNA match with a teammate (who did not make the Washington trip) but not Hakim's.

"I saw the stuff on ESPN, and he was already out (of jail)," said Washington strong safety Tony Parrish. "The sad thing about it is he's got this pasted on his backside.

"His name is going to be tarnished."

There was only one tarnish on Hakim's nearly perfect game. Parrish knocked the ball out of Hakim's hands as he stretched for the goal line in the first quarter. It was the Aztecs' best chance to score a touchdown, one he set up with receptions of 33, 23 and 17 yards against a Washington secondary lined up 12 yards deep because of Hakim's speed.

The Huskies were high on his list of possible choices as a high-school senior. He had a recruiting visit scheduled but canceled. When he didn't score high enough on his Scholastic Assessment Test early, Washington backed away.

"I felt they lost their belief in me," said Hakim, who has 2,307 career receiving yards.

After yesterday, maybe they wish they hadn't.

"It's a little scary when you've got a guy out there that runs a 4.3 (for the 40 yards)," said Washington linebacker Jerry Jensen.

Hakim caught six passes for 104 yards in the first half before the Huskies started sending a second man, typically Jensen, to defend him. It worked. He only caught one pass in the second half.

That was easy for Hakim, compared to the deluge of questions.

"For him it was tough, as you can imagine," said Aztec Coach Ted Tollner. "But I'd just as soon not talk about that right now. He doesn't want to talk about it. It's behind us."

Now he makes his statements on the field.

"This is what I do," Hakim said. "I want to make a good career out of this. So every time out there I give it my all, play every down to my full capability."