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Former Ohio State DB Malik Hooker almost didn’t play football at all

It’s a good thing he did, wouldn’t you say?

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

“Go back about seven years and the last thing Malik Hooker wanted to do was play organized football.”

- Mike Wells, ESPN

It’s funny how things work out like this. Malik Hooker had been projected as high as No. 2 in some NFL mock drafts, only behind Myles Garrett. Back in eighth grade, he broke his collarbone playing football, and didn’t want to play anymore because he was really a basketball player.

It was his ability to score, and plays like this that had Hooker being looked at by major NCAA Division I basketball coaches:

Hooker’s uncle, John Cox, persuaded him to give football another try. Hooker was hesitant, and initially told him no in his freshman year. “He was adamant in saying no more football, he only wanted to play basketball,” Cox said via Wells. “I told him I was going to give him a year, but then he kept saying no. I tried to get his mom to help me convince him to play and she wasn't having it, either.”

Eventually, Hooker agreed to play football his junior season. “The reason why I chose football over basketball is simply because I'm not 6-6 and that’s the average height for a point guard now,” Hooker said via Wells. “For football, for me to be a 6-3, 210-pound safety -- that's unheard of for the most part. I feel like it was plus-plus for football and just minus for basketball.”

I think it’s safe to say he made the right choice.

“A new precedent was set today, as Ezekiel Elliott became the first rookie to finish the year atop the NFL Players Association (NFLPA) Top 50 Player Sales List at the end of the 2016-17 season.”

- NFLPA

Ezekiel Elliott’s phenomenal rookie season didn’t stop with his on the field prowess. His jersey sales were the best the NFL had seen out of any rookie in league history. His jersey sales had him at the top spot on the year-end Top 50. The list is released quarterly by the NFLPA, and Elliott made the leap from No. 6, to No. 1.

“It’s pretty humbling,” Elliott said in the NFLPA release. “When you’re a rookie, you’re just looking to put your head down, help the team, and learn the ropes. To accomplish this level of success off the field shows just how passionate football fans are in Dallas, Ohio, my home state of Missouri and all around the world. And to be up there with Dak and Dez, alongside great players like Tom Brady and Odell Beckham, is very special to me.”

Way to go, Zeke.

“That Ohio State remained in the national title hunt after replacing 16 starters only increases expectations entering 2017.”

- Ben Axelrod, Land of 10

Since Urban Meyer’s arrival, this seems to be a conversation that’s now normally had at this time of year, which is wonderful. Ohio State is heading into the 2017 season filled with 14 starters returning. As Axelrod points out, this is going to be Meyer’s most experienced roster since he arrived in Columbus. Of course, that team is going to be ran by now-senior quarterback J.T. Barrett.

There’s still NFL caliber talent on the roster, which seems so normal at this point as well. The NFL draft class that featured the likes of Ezekiel Elliott, Joey Bosa, and others could be surpassed by this year’s squad. But no matter what, success is expected at Ohio State.

“There are certain standards at Ohio State,” Barrett said via Axelrod. “And they shouldn’t change for anybody.” It certainly doesn’t appear anything will be changing this upcoming season.

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