Return to football pays off for Hooker

Malik Hooker (New Castle, Pa./New Castle) is not new to football. He was just new to high school football.

The 2014 athlete that exploded onto the recruiting scene a month ago played football back in eighth grade but dropped it in high school to pursue basketball. He made his way back to the gridiron before his junior season, and it paid huge dividends. Hooker has added double-digit offers, and the majority have come since April.

“I’m grateful for it because not a lot of people can say they haven’t played football since eighth grade and come back one year and get scholarships or as many big scholarships I have,” Hooker said.

Among Hooker’s offers are Penn State and Pittsburgh, two schools Hooker previously visited. He plans to make several more during the summer and wants to get to Michigan, Ohio State, West Virginia and possibly Virginia Tech. All four schools have offered.

Buckeyes defensive backs coach Kerry Coombs spoke with Hooker last week about the defense in Columbus.

“He said he’s losing DBs but feels the guys he’s bringing in can step in and fill some spots and can be even better than they were,” Hooker said. “He said they’re going to be twice as good as they were this year and next year hopefully be four times as good.”

Hooker could be a part of that defensive backfield. Teams are looking at the 6-foot-2, 185-pound athlete as a cornerback or safety, and the Buckeyes have caught his early interest.

This summer will be pivotal for Hooker as he begins to sift through his offers. He already knows what he is going to be looking for in any potential suitor.

“I’m looking for if they not only want me to be a good football player but a good person overall,” Hooker said, “and a lot of schools say that but when you go there it’s not exactly what they say. Hopefully when I go on visits I see stuff like that.”