Malik Hooker-

 FS Ohio State

6-1.1, 210,  

Reminds Me OF Ed Reed? 

By TOM

Hooker came out of nowhere to be the best ball hawking safety in college football last year. "Here’s what I would tell you: Marshon [Lattimore] was an extraordinary receiver in high school," Urban Meyer said. "He has gifted hands. Malik Hooker is the best basketball player in the state of Pennsylvania. [He] has got great hands. Gareon has always had that knack in being able to do that [playing the ball in the air], and was a receiver in high school. I think you have to catch the ball and really in man-to-man coverage you shouldn’t get this many. It’s unusual to have seven in two weeks. But a guy like Malik who is a ball-hawking guy in the middle of the field can get that done." He played in an elite ball-hawking secondary.

This kid is tough as nail, and played though two injuries that needed surgery after the season. "My medical checks are going real well," Hooker said. "I'm looking forward to coming back for rookie camp. I was told not to let anybody pull or tug at my leg just because the surgery was recent. They were more so looking at my upper body." It doesn't get any tougher than that.

He is so tough that he didn't realize that he had injured himself during the game. "I didn't really notice it until after the [Michigan] game," Hooker said. "After the game, I couldn't really walk. I was limping. I practiced that week. I was not able to run as well. I played through it. I played the Clemson game as well." I'll take this kid on my team any day.

He didn't get surgery until after the season to repair the damage. "Malik Hooker had surgery Tuesday on a torn labrum and a hernia that he played through late this season," Matt Miller tweeted. " He will miss the Combine." He played in the Champ game and Playoffs with a torn Labrum and a Hernia!

Gil Brandt at Hooker's Proday: "Safety Malik Hooker (6-1 1/8, 210) told scouts he feels like he's ahead of schedule in his recovery from hip labrum surgery in early February, adding that he started running this week. He's got a limited football background, but I suspect he's got nothing but great things ahead. As long as he gets full medical clearance, he should be a top 10 pick."

He can look confused sometimes in a Zone. I like him better in Man and Press. However, he improved greatly in Cover One and Cover Two as the season went on. He had two surgeries and will miss the Combine. The Labrum is the problem. It has been guesstimated that he will not be able to go full out until the summer because of it. So there will be no workout before the Draft.

Very nice blitzer from the edge. First team All American. He really comes up fast when he reads run. Plays a lot of Cover Two. He has elite ball skills. He can run downfield and catch the ball over his head like a WR. Not a lot of Safeties can leap up over the WR can snag the ball out of the air like he can. He played WR in high school, and it really shows when he goes and gets the deep ball in Cover One. Terrific job reading the QB eyes, and then turning and running down the sideline with the WR. 

Hooker will probably be in the top ten when it is all said and done. I was shocked that he came out. However, when scouts are comparing you to a HOF then I suppose you have to come out. "It's a blessing and a humbling thing for people to tell you constantly that you're reminded of a player like Ed Reed," Hooker said. "One of the greater players and greater safeties in college football. So, for me to be compared to somebody like that is definitely a humbling thing for me." He does seem to have Reed's ability to read the QB and go and grab the INT.

This really is a game changer for this Draft. "Good defenses create takeaways, and great defenses score," Hooker said. "That’s been our mindset throughout the season, and I feel like it definitely paid off. I feel like we’ve got to enhance what we’ve been doing. Go out there as if we’re the underdogs. We’re still a young team. We’ve just got to go out there and keep proving people wrong and just stay together. Don’t nobody put themselves above the team." He not only has that knack for intercepting the ball, he can score once it is in his hands. 

He returned three interceptions for TDs last season. "It’s just a blessing just to be considered for something that great," Hooker said about being named a unanimous All-American. "There’s a lot of guys before me, and there’s a lot of guys that are going to come after me that have the privilege to be that. For me to have that happen my first year of playing as a starting safety, it’s definitely a blessing." He also plays special teams. 

2016 Season (Sophomore): First Team AFCS, Associated Press, FWAA, Walter Camp, USA Today, The Sporting News, Sports Illustrated, Fox Sports and CBS Sports All-American ... First Team All-Big Ten (coaches and media) ... Thorpe Award semifinalist ... ranks sixth nationally with six interceptions and led the FBS with three INTs returned for TDs, including a critical TD-return in the season finale vs. Michigan ... also ranked second nationally with 181 INT return yards and he was third on the team with 67 tackles, including 5.0 tackles for loss ... returned his second INT for a TD when he picked off a Nebraska pass and returned it 48 yards in the third quarter ... career-high 14 tackles vs. Northwestern ... led the team with seven tackles, 2.0 TFL and 1 PBU at Penn State ... returned an INT 47 yards in the win over Indiana ... recorded a career-high eight tackles and had 1.5 TFL in the win at Oklahoma ... six tackles in the overtime win at Wisconsin ... had four tackles and returned an INT 26 yards for a TD in the win over Tulsa ... recorded two interceptions in his first career start in the 77-10 win over Bowling Green ... also had four solo tackles on the day. 

He can get blocked off hit feet when he has outside contain and give up a TD, of course he was hit by the OLT. He will step up and cover the Slot WR, when the CB blitzes. He plays FS like a CB. He was not always the best open field tackler, but got better as the season went on. He can work his way through traffic very well, but missed some tackles this season.

Great change of direction going from backwards to forwards. He has the elite range as a Cover One safety. Great eyes. He reads what the offense is doing as well as any college FS I have seen. Nice quick feet sliding backwards. 

He played WR in high school. "He’s a ball-hawk. Dude is the best player on the field," an anonymous scout said. "I like him better than both safeties last year [Karl Joseph pick 14 and Keanu Neal Pick 17]. 1st-rounder. Physical, quick, fast and explosive with a great nose for the ball." He can track the ball deep down the field like an "elite Wide Receiver" and pull it in like a WR.

It is odd when a Safety is being compared to Ed Reed. "You hate to compare anyone that young to an all-time great," an anonymous scout said, "but if [Malik] keeps getting better, he could be a complete game-changing safety, just like Ed was. No doubt." And even odder when I cannot disagree.

But he is also being compared to Reed by guys who coached both players. "I said that early last spring when I saw some of the things [Hooker] could do in our winter conditioning and spring practice," Schiano said. "When I arrived at Miami, Ed was a really young, talented player who learned how to prepare. Malik was in the same jumping-off spot." It is hard to disagree with that.

He is so fierce on the goal line. Likes to go down low to tackle the big RBs.  "The thing Malik has learned how to do is prepare," Schiano said. "We talk all the time about humble confidence. Those gifts he didn't have a lot to do with, but his preparation had everything to do with it. He's become really proficient at preparing each week, and that's exciting to see as a coach." He plays with his eyes on the field so well.

Nice job attacking down hill in the run game when they let him. "As time progressed on, he helped me prepare better than probably anything I've ever prepared for in my life," Hooker said. "So I feel like I've got a different approach to the way I prepare for things, and he definitely helped me grow up to be the player that I am." Terrific Cover One safety, who will allow whoever Drafts him to blitz more.  

Excellent open field tackler. He finds the ball carrier in traffic down field so well. "As good as he wants to be," Schiano said. "He can be the best there is, if he keeps working at it." Everyone said he has a great work ethic.

It seems every time I watched him play he grabbed an interception. "That's why Hooker is a hot commodity in the scouting circles as an Ed Reed-like safety with a penchant for delivering big plays between the hashes," Bucky Brooks said. "He finished the regular season with 7-interceptions, including 3-pick-sixes. While exhibiting terrific range and anticipation as a deep middle defender. [He] has the best ball skills of any defensive back in the country." He is a nice hitter on the goal line as well. 

Very new to playing defense. He only played two years of football in high school, mainly as a WR. His saw himself as a basketball player. He redshirted in 2014. He did not have a start in 2015: 

2015 Season (Freshman): Hooker played in all 13 games for the 12-1 Buckeyes, totaled 179 plays and earned his first Varsity O letter … was in on 25 plays on defense with a high of 10 plays vs. Rutgers … 20 special teams plays vs. Rutgers and 19 vs. Notre Dame represent his busiest games … credited with 10 tackles on the season, including a personal-best three – all solo stops – vs. Rutgers.

The main reason I like him is because I see him as a CB playing FS, but he can meet the RB in the hole and tackle him back on his butt. Amazing returner with the ball in his hands. He averaged 25.9 yards on interception returns for an astonishing 181-yards and 3 TDs. He has amazing range in coverage. He can go from one side of the field to the other, and make the tackle on the WR on the Jet Sweep. I don't think there is another Safety in this Draft who could make that play, from one side of the field to the other on a Jet sweep.

Additional Notes:

Oklahoma: He led Ohio State in INTs with three after two games. Played mostly safety against Oklahoma, but he did step up and cover Slot guys sometimes. Very nice blitzer from the edge. He needs to stay in school. This kid can really move on the field. They trusted him in Cover One. Great range and eyes in coverage. He looks light and slight, but can come up and hit the RB in the hole. Elite anticipation when the ball is in the air. "Hook is still so raw and you see him making all of those plays," an Exec said. "He's a player who will come in and look bad his first year and then be an all-pro by his third year. I think that's his arc. No short-cut for experience." Amazing player who seemed to come out of nowhere.

Wisconsin: He played FS against Wisconsin. He was playing deep most the game. Great aggression flying up to hit the receiver low. Takes bad angles sometimes. Versatile player who moves from safety to CB and back throughout the game. Great burst to the ball in the open. He moves all over the field with great speed and anticipation. Seems to understand angles. He has Corner hips in coverage. He can get fooled by trickeration. Elite athlete for a Safety. Great leaper. He skies up like a basketball player for the ball.

Michigan ST: He did a nice job running down the seam and finding the RB trying to run off tackle. Nice job getting in front of the running QB, and taking him down when he bursts outside. He will line up right in front of the running QB at the marker, and followed him laterally where ever he went. He can give a nice hit to the QB on the scramble. Nice cover guy in the Slot. Great feet moving backwards. Great versatile weapon who can step up in the base defense and cover the 3rd-WR in the slot, and shut him down.

Malik Hooker Vs Michigan:

He had a big Pick Six against Michigan. He is an elite returner after he intercepts the ball (2:14). He can step up into the box and cover like a LB, and step up in front of the big TE and intercept the ball (2:48). He had three pick sixes this past season. Nice range from inside to the number to tackle the WR after the catch (3:14). He was a great high school basketball player who converted to safety, and plays the last line of defense very well, even in the Redzone where it all happens faster (4:10). He can get in front of the RB and stop him at the goal line, by going low (4:32). He will charge up field too fast sometimes, and get beat on a cutback (5:09). But he is so young to the game that his tackling is still impressive. 

He played Cover One a lot, and they trust his speed to get to both sides of the field. He improved a lot during the season. How the hell did get from deep Cover one, turning and heading deeper with his hips turned away from the play, to running past two teammates to hit the TE sneaking outside. That is elite range. I have never seen a guy change direction and move across the field that fast before (5:22). He might be ready to come out now. He's a much more consistent tackler. They like to blitz and leave him all alone deep in Cover One. He consistently makes the tackle as the last line of defense on the RB (5:32). He can get outside the tackles to tackle the RB from Cover One  (5:40). He will lead block for a teammate when they are returning an INT. He does a good job going down hill and tackling the RB on an off tackle run. When he keys run he gets to the line fast.

Hooker Vs Michigan:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f8wqX4z1SlE

Malik Hooker Vs Clemson:

This is a tough draft with so many Redshirt Sophomore's coming out. There is a lot a film work to catch up on, like Malik Hooker. I loved his game this year, but took as little notice of him and notes as I could, because he was a Sophomore. 

He is such a great ball hawk, who is a FS as well. He is very underrated against the run. I loved the aggression on the run blitz here (:01). He played in Cover One a lot. So he had to play that fine line between aggressive and last line of defense (:25). Cover Two. He stayed inside off the snap, and got outside a little late and out of position to help on Williams (:32). He tried to move up into the Slot, but the slot WR went deep (:45). It looked like the QB wanted to go to him, but Hooker shut down the big slot WR.

He fell for the Option. But check out the hit at the goal line that knocked the RB straight back on his butt (:56). He read the screen right away, but took a bad angle. Although, he did have help outside, and would have had the WR if he broken inside (1:07). Check out the COD (change of direction) on this play (1:15). He went for the fake pass, and dropped. Then watch the burst forward as he saw Watson keep the ball. He slammed into him at full speed, and you know that had to hurt the QB. 

He read it well. Took a great angle, and took out the RB's legs. I heard somewhere that he was not a good tackler, but I thought he got better during the season (1:24). This was pure greatness. Here he was in Cover One. He had to cover both sides of the field on a short field (1:34). Watson threw it deep as his WRs ran a pick play that sent the Slot WR free down the sideline. Hooker got from the middle of the field to the sideline, at the goal line, and dragged it in. 

That is an elite game changing play. "Marshon Lattimore, third year, and then obviously Gareon is a heck of a player," Meyer said. "But Malik Hooker, that was a great play. That was right in front of me. I saw him reach out, great ball skills. Greg Schiano certainly does have an impact on this. But it's obviously very talented players." Teams that like to blitz, are desperate for Safeties who can line up in Cover One and not just get from sideline to sideline, but their hands on the ball like he just did. 

Check out this range in Coverage One (2:01). Cover Two. Watch the nice transition from backward outside to forward out of his pedal. That was terrific. Then he angled right into the RB and crashed into his legs (2:09). He took a bad angle here, and it turned into a lot of trouble (2:15). Nice job getting all the way across the field (2:33). He found his way through traffic to finally get the WR down.

He read the screen faster than everyone else, but just got blocked before he could make the tackle (2:54). He was playing up, spying Watson, and was still able to get over and take out the RB (3:03). Cover Two. He pedaled back, and then turned and got outside to make a play on the ball (3:16). Watch this read (3:26). He read Watson's eyes, and broke in front of the WR's outside move. That would have been a Pick Six if the DE didn't knock it down.

Cover Two. He read the Jet Sweep and was the only defender moving before the snap. He got all the way across the field and got in on the tackle (3:32). He read it like a linebacker and shuffled outside to get in on the tackle on Watson (3:41). He got fooled by the play action (3:50). But he still got in on the play.

He read it right, but missed the RB in the hole (4:16). Cover One on the goal line (4:24). He had the RB, but the RB found the cut back lane and scored (4:32). Cover Two. He does a great job staying in front of the RB (4:53). He played the inside lane to the WR screen again perfectly (5:05). Watch how fast he got from reading the play to the tackle (5:14). He attacked forward like an alligator on the Slot receiver, and this game was over.

Hooker Vs Clemson:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3KGCb9zV0vw

Hooker's Official Bio:

Ohio State Overview: Malik Hooker is in his third season with the Buckeyes and he’s on the cusp of earning a starting spot at one safety position … he came through spring drills listed as the team’s No. 1 safety, a position he grabbed and held right from the start as the coaches seek replacements for NFL-bound, two-year starters Vonn Bell and Tyvis Powell … Hooker, who red-shirted the 2014 season as a true freshman, is majoring in sport industry.

2016 Season (Sophomore): First Team AFCS, Associated Press, FWAA, Walter Camp, USA Today, The Sporting News, Sports Illustrated, Fox Sports and CBS Sports All-American ... First Team All-Big Ten (coaches and media) ... Thorpe Award semifinalist ... ranks sixth nationally with six interceptions and led the FBS with three INTs returned for TDs, including a critical TD-return in the season finale vs. Michigan ... also ranked second nationally with 181 INT return yards and he was third on the team with 67 tackles, including 5.0 tackles for loss ... returned his second INT for a TD when he picked off a Nebraska pass and returned it 48 yards in the third quarter ... career-high 14 tackles vs. Northwestern ... led the team with seven tackles, 2.0 TFL and 1 PBU at Penn State ... returned an INT 47 yards in the win over Indiana ... recorded a career-high eight tackles and had 1.5 TFL in the win at Oklahoma ... six tackles in the overtime win at Wisconsin ... had four tackles and returned an INT 26 yards for a TD in the win over Tulsa ... recorded two interceptions in his first career start in the 77-10 win over Bowling Green ... also had four solo tackles on the day.

2015 Season (Freshman): Hooker played in all 13 games for the 12-1 Buckeyes, totaled 179 plays and earned his first Varsity O letter … was in on 25 plays on defense with a high of 10 plays vs. Rutgers … 20 special teams plays vs. Rutgers and 19 vs. Notre Dame represent his busiest games … credited with 10 tackles on the season, including a personal-best three – all solo stops – vs. Rutgers.

More on Malik: Hooker played just two seasons of high school football and was a two-year starter at wide receiver and cornerback for coach Joe Cowart at New Castle H.S. … basketball was his preferred sport – he was a Division I prospect – before he first played football during the 2012 football season … considered a dynamic athlete, Hooker was rated as a four-star prospect by Scout and ESPN and was among the Top 300 players by Scout with a national ranking of No. 258.

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