Year of Malik: Looking Back on Nine Outstanding Plays from Malik Hooker's 2016 Season

By 11W Staff on January 3, 2017 at 8:55 am
Ohio State safety Malik Hooker

Malik Hooker wasn't supposed to be this good this quickly.

Sure, there were rumblings of his hawkish nature all through camp, but nobody expected the quiet kid from New Castle, Pennsylvania – who had just two seasons of high school football under his belt before arriving in Columbus – to do what he did for the Buckeyes this season.

Tallying seven interceptions – including a school-record three for touchdowns – Hooker was named First Team All-American by the Associated Press, FWAA, USA Today, Sports Illustrated, Fox Sports, CBS and just about any organization you can think of.

He arrived on the scene with one of the more spectacular interceptions you'll ever see in his first start as a Buckeye and went on to grab every contested ball in the Ohio State secondary, singlehandedly changing the flow of at least two games for the 11–2 Buckeyes. 

And now he's headed to the NFL, where he'll be a first round selection. Before he's gone, here's a look at nine of his best plays from the 2016 season.

Buckeye Nation, Meet Malik Hooker
Our first glimpse of Hooker's greatness came in the opener against Bowling Green when he pulled down one of the finer interceptions you'll ever see.

GIF: Malik Hooker makes a spectacular interception in Ohio State's opener against Bowling Green.

That's My Ball, Son
Not long after introducing himself to Ohio State fans, Hooker put on his centerfielder's cap and ran down his second interception of the game against Bowling Green, bodying the intended receiver before returning the pick 44 yards.

GIF: Malik Hooker hauls in his second interception against Bowling Green.

I'm the Offense Now
Ohio State had looked sluggish against Tulsa in week two, leading only 6-3 with moments to play in the first half. No problem for Hooker as he stepped in front of a Dane Evans pass and raced 26 yards untouched to give his team some breathing room. It was his first pick-six as a Buckeye.

GIF: Malik Hooker's pick six against Tulsa.

Safeties Are Not Supposed to Pancake Offensive Linemen
Moments after scoring on his first pick-six, Hooker led a convey of blockers for his teammate Marshon Lattimore's own pick-six, ultimately flattening a Tulsa offensive lineman on the return.

GIF: Malik Hooker pancakes an offensive lineman

It Will Always Be a Pick-Six in Our Hearts
With his Buckeyes rolling over Indiana, Hooker took a Richard Lagow pick 53 yards to the house. But an illegal block penalty on Damon Arnette nullified the score.

GIF: Malik Hooker's interception against Indiana.

That'll Be Enough of That
Wisconsin's Jazz Peavy spent the better part of the first half torturing Ohio State on jet sweeps. Ohio State made the proper adjustments at halftime – and by adjustments, Hooker was ordered to destroy the jet sweep. Problem solved.

GIF: Malik Hooker destroys Jazz Peavy on a jet sweep.

Another One
Hooker got his second (official) pick-six of the season late in the third quarter of the Nebraska game, showcasing his nose for the end zone on a 48-yard return.

GIF: Malik Hooker gets another pick six against Nebraska.

The Hero
Hooker and the Buckeyes hadn't done much of anything in the first half against Michigan. Trailing 3-0 late in the second quarter, he once again created offense for his team, returning a Wilton Speight pass 16 yards for a touchdown and providing a bit of juice to a stadium that badly needed it.

GIF: Malik Hooker's pick-six against Michigan.

That Range
Playing in what would be his final game in an Ohio State uniform, Hooker showed off his amazing range with this interception of Deshaun Watson in the Fiesta Bowl. There's not a lot you can say about how the Buckeyes showed up in this game, but had Hooker not made that play, there's a good chance Ohio State fans are wallowing in the sorrow of a 31-0 loss, instead.

GIF: Malik Hooker shows off his range with an interception of Deshaun Watson
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