Better Know a Buckeye: Malik Hooker

By Vico on May 22, 2014 at 11:00a
Malik Hooker
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The 15th installment of this 23-part Better Know a Buckeye series profiles Malik Hooker, a defensive back prospect from New Castle, Pennsylvania. Little has been said of him and not much footage of him is available. Likely a safety, he is part of a recruiting class that features Army All-American Erick Smith and other Army All-American defensive backs like Damon Webb and Marshon Lattimore. Hooker might be a forgotten man in this recruiting class.

He is also an intriguing athlete who could have the highest ceiling of any defensive back in the class even if he has the longest way to go. I retell his brief recruitment here, though it did not consist of much. Thereafter, I discuss strengths and areas for improvement before suggesting a redshirt in 2014 is in order. I conclude with miscellaneous things about Malik Hooker you may find interesting or worth reading.

Height: 6-2
Weight: 185
High School: New Castle Junior/Senior High School; New Castle, PA

His Recruitment

Malik Hooker was noticed by Ohio State near the conclusion of his junior year, resulting in a verbal scholarship offer on May 7, 2013. By that time, Hooker listed offers from Arizona, Buffalo, Michigan, Penn State, Pittsburgh, West Virginia, and Youngstown State. This is a good list of programs from which to choose, including two Big Ten schools (three with Ohio State included), but it is sparse.

This can be attributed to the fact Hooker only started playing organized football in 2012, his junior year. He was previously a standout guard on New Castle's basketball team, which had won the past two WPIAL championships. He spent his summers on the AAU basketball circuit, not in football camps. He had drawn interest from some smaller basketball programs like Cleveland State and Florida Atlantic. He also had an offer to play basketball at the U.S. Naval Academy. 

However, one year of football as an upperclassmen drew immediate attention and scholarship offers from regional heavyweights like Michigan, Penn State, Pittsburgh, and Ohio State. Hooker said he would keep his options open, but it became clear that he was getting better football opportunities than he was receiving opportunities for basketball. He took an unofficial visit to Ohio State in the middle of June. He did not participate in an ongoing camp but had good things to say about the trip.

By the end of June, Hooker had a top five of Ohio State, West Virginia, Michigan, Pittsburgh, and Penn State. He said that those school were not in order by preference, but reading tea leaves here would have been appropriate. That he mentioned Ohio State first in a comment to a Michigan 247sports affiliate was telling.

Not much was said about Hooker for a month before he made his decision.

His Commitment

On July 29, 2013, Malik Hooker committed to Ohio State as the 15th member of its 2014 recruiting class.

Hooker said little of his recruitment and did not elaborate his decision with some detail. His comment to 247sports suggested that it was Ohio State against the field the moment Ohio State offered.

"The first time I was there it just felt right. I just felt the spark that it was the place to be. One visit was enough for me. I just felt like I was at home and the coaching staff, they're all great people."

Hooker chose Ohio State over West Virginia, Michigan, Pittsburgh, and Penn State.

Where He Excels

Playing organized football for only two years, Hooker's small but notable offer sheet is a result of his athletic potential. Ohio State does not want for athletes in its recruiting class and Hooker could be one of the top five athletes among the class' 23 members.

He could conceivably be a wide receiver too. He has the ball skills for it even if all expectations for him is to enlist as a safety prospect.

Still, firm judgments of his strengths are hard to make. He has only played organized football for two years and what highlights film are available may not be informative. Biggest thing I saw is a running and jumping ability that translated well from his time playing basketball. Hooker looks comfortable with the ball in the air and demonstrates an ability to high-point it over an opposing player.

Must Work On

Hooker's mind needs to get on his body's level. Safety will be more than center field (to use a baseball metaphor) for football at the major college level. There is so much about football and fundamentals that Hooker will need to learn.

Redshirt?

Yes. Hooker's ceiling is high but it could be two years before he is capable of making a presence in the two-deep at safety for Chris Ash. A redshirt will help.

Highlights

Because of Hooker's sui generis football career, this will be a two-fer. The senior year film comes first.

This is from his junior year.

Miscellany

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