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Malik Hooker declares for 2017 NFL Draft

The Ohio State standout is expected to be a high first-round draft pick.

NCAA FOOTBALL: DEC 31 CFP Semifinal - Fiesta Bowl - Ohio State v Clemson Photo by Carlos Herrera/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Virtually no one outside of the Ohio State locker room foresaw Malik Hooker’s meteoric rise.

Kerry Coombs, Buckeye special teams and cornerbacks coach, likes to say that the entire secondary aims to be first-round draft picks. And after a year that should’ve garnered him a hat tip from the Thorpe Award, the annual trophy that goes to the nation’s best defensive back, one member of Greg Schiano and Co.’s core will get to fulfill that dream.

Announcing the decision on Twitter Monday, OSU safety Malik Hooker made his plans official that he’s forgoing his remaining eligibility and entering the 2017 NFL Draft. Hooker was barely more than a fringe candidate to start heading into last offseason but emerged into an interception machine for the Buckeyes this past fall.

While the decision to head to the next level is hardly a surprise (and one OSU coaches have undoubtedly been preparing for for several months now), losing a player of Hooker’s caliber is always bittersweet. Here’s wishing him all the best at the next level.