Ohio State Football Young Buckeyes To Watch: Malik Hooker

Our series documenting the most interesting young players to watch during Ohio State's spring practice continues with Malik Hooker.

Ohio State’s spring practice is around the corner. The Buckeyes have already started training for the 2016 season and the team will take the field for the first time March 8. With nine underclassmen and a number of seniors departing from the 2015 team that went 12-1, there are plenty of questions surrounding the 2016 Buckeyes. BuckeyeSports.com is taking a look at some of the young players suiting up for Ohio State this spring and what they have to gain between now and the Spring Game on April 16.

What Hooker Has Done: Thus far, not too much – although that’s mostly because safeties Tyvis Powell and Vonn Bell combined to start 27 of the 28 games that have been played since Hooker arrived at Ohio State. After redshirting during the 2014 CFP National Championship season, he played in every game and made 10 tackles in 2015. Injuries to Cam Burrows and Erick Smith made him the No. 1 option behind Powell and Bell by season’s end.

What The Coaches Are Saying: “Malik Hooker is a guy who only played two years of football. I watched him play basketball and he certainly has the athleticism and size. It's just experience. So he might take a little bit longer, but that's an area obviously that we need to improve. That's the defensive backfield.” – Urban Meyer (Feb. 5, 2014)

Why Hooker Is Important: Hooker’s significance isn’t too tough to figure out. Ohio State lost both starting safeties to the NFL (as underclassmen, no less), so two players will be needed to step up and develop into starter-caliber players. Burrows and Smith will both be back in 2016, but both are coming off significant injuries. Hooker will be healthy in the spring, and his development could go a long way toward making Ohio State feel like it has a safety net at that position.

What Hooker Has To Gain: Again, the answer here is fairly evident. Both Burrows and Smith have an experience edge, but Hooker drew rave reviews from teammates during Fiesta Bowl practices, where he reportedly made a number of impressive interceptions. The player who spent most of his high school career throwing down highlight-reel dunks on the basketball court now has a chance to win a starting job on one of the best college football teams in the country. It’s an important spring for a lot of players, but Hooker is right there at the top in terms of having the most to gain.

Check out more from our series on the most interesting young Buckeyes:

Torrance Gibson

Denzel Ward

Austin Mack


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