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Malik Hooker Says It's a 'Blessing' To Receive Recognition From Fans

Ohio State sophomore safety Malik Hooker realizes the recognition he currently receives from fans will 'not always' be there.

Malik Hooker had to wait until his third year at Ohio State to become the starting safety for the Buckeyes. He redshirted his first year and then sat behind the likes of Vonn Bell and Tyvis Powell the next season.

When his number was finally called at the start of the 2016 campaign he didn’t wait long to make an impact.

Hooker had two interceptions in Ohio State’s season opener against Bowling Green. On the first theft, he tipped the ball to himself and caught it with one hand while falling to the turf.

The New Castle, Penn., native would go on to record four more picks during the regular season, three of which he returned for touchdowns.  

That combined with his 67 tackles in 2016 has led to him being name a first-team All-American by The Sporting News and a first-team All-Big Ten player on defense by both the league’s coaches and the media.

Though these national honors came once the regular season ended, OSU fans and students have known who Hooker is for quite some time now. That wasn’t the case at the beginning of the season, however.      

“I would probably say probably after the second game of the season, Tulsa, when I had the pick six,” Hooker said. “That’s when a lot of people started recognizing me and just saying, ‘What’s up?’ and stuff like that. So, probably then.”

Hooker’s interception return for a touchdown against the Golden Hurricane gave the Buckeyes a 13-6 lead late in the first half.

After that, he said people have stopped to congratulate him on his performances throughout the season routinely when he’s walking around campus or even while he’s in class.

Some players may get annoyed by this, but Hooker enjoys the recognition because he knows it won’t last forever.   

“Me, personally, I don’t think it’s weird at all,” he said of fans commending him. “Like I said, it’s definitely a blessing and a humbling thing because most football players, they fail to realize that at one point in your life you’re not going to play football no more and people are not going to recognize you. So, I feel like for football players it’s humbling. You just got to take it in because it’s not always going to be there.”


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