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Ohio State’s Malik Hooker: “Right now, I am 100% coming back’”

If this sticks, Ohio State’s secondary will be elite next season.

NCAA Football: Nebraska at Ohio State Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

Perhaps nobody on this year’s Ohio State team has seen his star explode as much as safety Malik Hooker. A relatively lightly recruited player compared to his blue-chip peers on the depth chart, Hooker grabbed a starting spot and has validated that decision every game, returning three interceptions for touchdowns (and picking off six passes total), and emerging as one of the top playmakers on the Buckeye defense.

Hooker could decide to leave early for the NFL after this year, and given his sterling performances this season, his athletic upside, and his likelihood of being an early draft prospect, most analysts, including this website, have assumed that Hooker will leave and pursue an NFL career.

But according to one highly placed source, those assumptions might not be accurate. And that’s Malik Hooker.

Speaking to Columbus Dispatch reporter Tim May, Hooker said “Right now it’s 100 percent sure I’m coming back to Ohio State.”

A lot can change between now and the deadline to declare for the NFL Draft. His coaches might encourage him to leave, especially if Hooker might be a first rounder. But his resoluteness right now could be a promising sign for Ohio State fans.

If Hooker returns, Ohio State’s secondary should be nasty once again in 2017.