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Malik Hooker owes his NFL Draft dreams to his mom

As if there was any doubt, mother always knows best.

NCAA Football: Fiesta Bowl-Ohio State vs Clemson David Kadlubowski-USA TODAY Sports

One of the tried and true rules of the NFL Draft is that, upon being drafted, the first person that you must thank, after your god of choice, is your mother. While that is always the smart and safe move, tonight, it could be even more true for one former Buckeye.

Malik Hooker came to Ohio State after playing only two seasons of football at New Castle High School in Pennsylvania, and basketball was his first love. But, after earning an early OSU offer and then All-State honors, Hooker joined the Buckeyes as one of the lower-rated players in head coach Urban Meyer’s incredible 2014 recruiting class.

The safety redshirted as a true freshman, and recorded only 10 tackles in his first year on the field in 2015 before being named a starter heading into the 2016 season. Now, less than eight months later, he is on the verge of being a Top-10 NFL draft pick.

While many might say that a redshirt sophomore season that included seven interceptions, three of which were returned for scores, 11 passes defended, and 73 tackles is the main impetus for Hooker’s meteoric rise to the top of many a draft board, they would be wrong, because it all comes back to momma.

As Meyer revealed following Ohio State’s season opening win over Bowling Green last September, during his first few years in Columbus, Hooker tried to quit the team numerous times. However, his mother, Angela Dennis, kept him from giving up during those years when he was buried behind future pros on the depth chart, like Vonn Bell, Tyvis Powell, et. al.

“He came home every weekend and didn’t want to go back,” Dennis said according to the Dayton Daily News. “He would go off on long walks and not come back when he was supposed to. We’d have to go out and find him so we could take him back.”

With an assist from Hooker’s high school basketball coach Ralph Blundo, and former OSU coaches Chris Ash and Luke Fickell, Dennis was able to keep her son in Columbus, where he would eventually go on to be a first-team All-American after starting just a single season.

According to Hooker, his mother said, “I don’t know what you’re gonna do, but you’re not coming back here,’” he said. “She told me, ‘You’re gonna stick it out and it will end up working out.’”

As always, mother knows best. According to SB Nation’s Mock Draft, Hooker could go as high as second to the San Francisco 49ers tonight. Due to some lingering injury concerns that kept him from working out at the combine, other mocks have him slightly lower, but still in the top-10. The most common landing spot projected for the safety is the Los Angeles Chargers, where he would join fellow former Buckeye, Joey Bosa, on a squad that needs someone on the backend of Gus Bradley’s defense.

So, when Hooker hears NFL commissioner Roger Goodell call his name tonight, to whichever team it might be, and he eventually signs a contract for tons of first-round NFL money, it will all be thanks to momma.