Malik Hooker Ohio State Football

College Football: Malik Hooker Says Goodbye To Ohio State, Entering NFL Draft

Ohio State surprised many college football fans this year by being able to claw their way to a playoff spot, despite having a very young team and many starters who left the team last season. However, they were able to experience only one regular season loss, which was a tough away game against Penn State that was determined by a blocked field goal which resulted in a touchdown. Since it was near the conclusion of the game, Ohio State was unable to bounce back and suffered a loss in Happy Valley.

However, they were able to bounce back for the duration of the regular season, defeating Michigan in arguably the greatest game of their storied rivalry.

Unfortunately, the Buckeyes were struggling offensively for a number of games throughout the year, which reared its ugly head during the most important game of the season. In the semi-finals against Clemson, Ohio State was scoreless, which was the first time ever for Urban Meyer as a head coach. Moreover, it was the first shutout loss for Ohio State in a bowl game in nearly 100 years.

Just wasn't our night. Clemson corrals @OhioStateFB in #CFBPlayoff semifinal at the @Fiesta_Bowl. #GoBucks | OhioStateBuckeyes.com

A photo posted by Brutus Buckeye (@brutus_buckeye) on

Although the score was 31-0, the Buckeye defense saved them from having a much more lop-sided loss. In fact, their defense has been saving games all season, including being very instrumental in rallying back against Michigan, after being down 17-7 late in the game.

One of the people mostly instrumental for Ohio State’s impressive defense was Malik Hooker. The redshirt sophomore made it a hobby to intercept passes, even returning three of them for touchdowns. His stellar year was of great benefit to both Ohio State fans, as well as NFL recruiters.

Stay Down Until You Come Up!???????????????? #RIPVIC #RIPLONT

A photo posted by Malik Hooker (@malikhooker24) on

Hooker initially told Tim May of the Columbus Dispatch that he was “100 percent sure” of coming back to the Buckeyes next season. However, Hooker has changed his mind and officially said his goodbyes via Twitter and Instagram.

In his announcement, Hooker expressed that he changed his mind after talking to his family.

A photo posted by Malik Hooker (@malikhooker24) on

“I can’t thank my OSU family enough for taking a small town kid like myself and allowing me to [grow] into a man… This growth has led me to make one of the toughest yet most exciting decisions of my life. I have talked with my family and we have decided [it’s] best for me to [forego] my remaining two years of eligibility and declare for the 2017 NFL draft. I want to thank God first and foremost for blessing me with the opportunity to make this decision, my family, and my friends for getting me to where I am today.”

Showing that he is an instrumental defensive threat this season, Hooker is expected to be a first-round draft pick. There is little to no doubt that Hooker will be as impressive in the NFL as he was his final year at Ohio State. His Big Ten-high seven interceptions, three returns to touchdowns, and overall leadership qualities make him an immediate high selection in the draft.

Ohio State, with Hooker now gone, has a number of questions to answer during the off season. Issues such as J.T. Barrett struggling as a quarterback, Tim Beck’s highly-criticized offensive play-calling, and Urban Meyer’s re-evaluation of his staff after a shutout loss, will all come in play before the 2017 Ohio State Buckeyes debut this fall.

However, despite all of this, Malik Hooker will be playing on Sundays and establishing himself as a strong member of the defense for whatever team he gets drafted to. While it is a big blow to Ohio State Buckeye fans, it is a well-deserved step forward to endeavor in his career as a player for the National Football League.

[Featured Image by Rick Scuteri/AP Images]

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