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Ohio State safety Malik Hooker drawing comparisons to an NFL great

Co-defensive coordinator Greg Schiano would know since he coached the respected safety at Miami.

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

“It’s a blessing and a humbling thing for people to tell you constantly that you remind them of a player like Ed Reed, one of the greater players and greater safeties in football.”

Ohio State safety Malik Hooker via David Jablonski, Dayton Daily News

Coming into the season there was questions as to how the Ohio State secondary would hold up after seeing safeties Vonn Bell and Tyvis Powell move on to the NFL. Throughout the season the defensive backs has answered all the questions asked of them, and then some. The new starter who has stood out the most is safety Malik Hooker, who intercepted six passes during the year, returning three of them for touchdowns.

Greg Schiano has likened Hooker to future NFL Hall of Fame safety Ed Reed, who Schiano coached while he was at Miami. Even though Hooker grew up as a Pittsburgh Steelers fan, the redshirt sophomore is honored to be compared to the former Baltimore Ravens safety. In just a few months Hooker has gone from unknown to being mentioned as a possible NFL first round draft pick. Not bad for a guy who is still learning as a safety. If Hooker’s game continues to evolve, years down the road people might be comparing some young safeties to him.

“After Oklahoma I started to feel more comfortable. That was a big thing for me personally, going against Oklahoma and how talented they are, I played pretty well for my first big game. That opened the door for me to gain my confidence.”

Ohio State defensive lineman Dre’Mont Jones via Bill Landis, Northeast Ohio Media Group

If Dre’Mont Jones had things his way he’d probably be starting at defensive end right now. Unfortunately for Jones, Ohio State has a surplus of talent at defensive end, which has shuffled Jones to defensive tackle, a spot where he has started 11 games this season. This isn’t the first time in recent memory that the Buckeyes have moved a talented defensive end to the interior of the defensive line. Adolphus Washington was moved inside and excelled for his final two years in the scarlet and gray, and the same type of success could be in store for Jones.

The redshirt freshman from Cleveland was called into action early in the year when starter Tracy Sprinkle was lost for the season due to injury. Jones’ confidence started to build after the Oklahoma game, once the shock of the defensive tackle job being his wore off. As the Buckeyes head into the Fiesta Bowl to take on Clemson, Jones leads Ohio State defensive linemen with 47 tackles, with three of those being tackles for loss. Even though the Buckeyes still have work to do this year, the emergence of Jones makes the defensive line for Ohio State even scarier this year, when Sprinkle is able to return from injury.

“It was so exciting to see him knock the first one down and a couple more of them. When he missed the dunk, I told him, ‘You’re too close to the basket.’ He has been in here, he has been working. We need Kam to do what Kam does.”

Ohio State men’s basketball head coach Thad Matta on Kam Williams via Adam Jardy, The Columbus Dispatch

Heading into Tuesday night’s game against Youngstown State, guard Kam Williams had been struggling over the past three games. The junior was just 7-30 from the field, scoring 16 combined points. Coincidentally, Ohio State lost two of those games, falling to Florida Atlantic and UCLA. Just how off was Williams’ shooting stroke? He failed to reach double figures in all three of those games, while in the first eight games of the season, Williams failed to reach double figures in scoring in just three games.

The good news for Ohio State fans is that Williams might have just found his shooting stroke again. Early on in the blowout against Youngstown State, Williams hit a couple shots, and he finished the game missing just three of his nine shots on his way to scoring 15 points. Now Williams is hoping to have another good shooting performance tonight against UNC-Asheville before the Buckeyes get a bit of a break before Big Ten play starts for them on New Year’s Day. Last year Williams hit over 50 percent of his three-pointers in conference play, and the Buckeyes are going to need him to shoot just as good this year if they plan on being a factor in the Big Ten.

“He’s a gifted run-after-the-catch guy. He does a good job of leveraging the corners and making it hard to tackle.”

New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton on wide receiver Michael Thomas via Brett Martel, Associated Press

Even though they are technically still alive in the playoff race, it’s highly unlikely the New Orleans Saints will make it to the playoffs. Some of the Saints still do have a little to play for though. Former Ohio State wide receiver Michael Thomas has already set some of New Orleans’ rookie receiving records, and has a shot at breaking a couple more in the last two games. Thomas leads NFL rookie receivers with 76 catches, 883 yards, and eight touchdowns, sitting ahead of the five receivers drafted ahead of him.

Even with missing a 16-11 loss to Tampa Bay a couple weeks ago, Thomas already owns the New Orleans rookie record for receptions, and last week tied Marques Colston and Donté Stallworth with his eighth receiving touchdown. Now Thomas can set his sights on trying to surpass Colston’s 1,038 receiving yards. Thomas has caught at least four catches in each of the game he has played this year, with his consistency being the perfect compliment to speedster Brandin Cooks. If Thomas keeps up this pace, he’ll not only own the rookie receiving record of the Saints, but he’ll own all their other receiving records as well.

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