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Ohio State's Hooker to draft after big season

Ohio State’s Hooker to draft after big season

Jan 2, 2017

  • Brian BennettESPN Staff Writer
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    • ESPN.com Big Ten reporter.
    • Joined ESPN.com in 2008.
    • Graduate of the University of Kentucky.

Ohio State safety Malik Hooker is entering the NFL draft after one spectacular season as a starter in Columbus.

Hooker, a redshirt sophomore, who announced his decision Monday afternoon on Twitter, had seven interceptions on the season and led the FBS by returning three of them for touchdowns. He had an interception in the Buckeyes’ 31-0 loss to Clemson in the College Football Playoff semifinal at the Playstation Fiesta Bowl.

Hooker redshirted in 2014 and played as a backup in 2015 and nearly transferred out of Ohio State. But he broke out this year and earned numerous first-team All-America honors. He was also a Thorpe Award semifinalist and finished with 74 tackles and 5.5 tackles for loss.

“The past three years have been among the most trying yet most fulfilling years of my life,” Hooker said in his announcement. “Even though my time here didn’t start the way I planned, I have gained a love and appreciation for Columbus that is hard to put into words.”

Hooker has been projected as a first-round pick on ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr.’s Big Board.

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