Mom talked, Ohio State’s Hooker listened


By Jim Naveau - [email protected]



COLUMBUS — If Malik Hooker plays the way he did Saturday, when he picked off two interceptions in Ohio State’s 77-10 win over Bowling Green, he might make a lot of receivers feel like giving up and quitting this season.

But a year ago, it was Hooker who was thinking about quitting.

Like many young athletes, the sophomore safety had started on every team he’d ever played on in his life and when he got to college he found out that he was just a face in the crowd.

Hooker was a basketball standout growing up in New Castle, Pa., and became an NCAA Division I football recruit after only getting serious about that sport as a junior in high school.

“His first year, he tried to quit about seven times,” Ohio State coach Urban Meyer said.

“He was a typical freshman. You see yourself third, fourth, fifth on the depth chart. You don’t like it and it’s hard and you’re going to quit.

“I credit his mother with not allowing him to quit. Thank God for moms like that because some moms would say come on home. This mom said shut up and go back to work,” he said.

Well, that’s not exactly a direct quote of what Hooker’s mom, Angela Dennis said. But it probably catches the core of it.

“There were a few times where I thought this wasn’t for me when I first came in and I wasn’t playing a lot. My mom helped me stick it out and it worked out,” Hooker said. “I just started doubting myself, thinking this wasn’t the place for me. I wasn’t fitting in. And stuff like that.

“Her exact words were, ‘I don’t know what you’re going to do but you’re not coming home,’ ” he said.

“I just told him he couldn’t come home. I felt like he had a chance to do some great things and I wasn’t letting him ruin that,” Dennis said.

“He came home every weekend and he didn’t want to come back. We told him he couldn’t stay home. He would go for long walks and not come back when he was supposed to and we would have to go looking for him.”

Hooker said he’s not as sure as Meyer that he came close to quitting.

“It was just something I was saying. I’m not a quitter type person. It was more just that I was frustrated with not playing.”

Either way, he knew who was going to get the last word.

“Whatever she says goes,” he said about his mom.

NOTES:

Bad news for Sprinkle: Starting defensive lineman Tracy Sprinkle apparently will be lost for the season after suffering a torn patella tendon on Saturday.

“Patella tendon injury is what they’re telling me, which is not good,” Meyer said. “It’s a surgery and season-ending is what I’ve been told. That’s the worst part of this darned game is when a guy gets hurt. Our prayers are with Tracy.”

WEBER AIMS HIGH: A preseason injury kept running back Mike Weber out of action all of last season, but he showed Ohio State fans the wait was worth it by running for 136 yards on 19 carries.

“I was nervous. I was wondering how I was going to do,” Weber said.

But the redshirt freshman doesn’t lack confidence. Asked what kind of backfield he and Curtis Samuel could become, he said, “Like Lendale White and Reggie Bush.”

Barrett on his interception: When quarterback J.T. Barrett threw a pick-six interception in the first quarter, it looked like he threw the ball directly to Bowling Green linebacker Brandon Harris.

It looked the same way to Barrett.

“I went out there and tried to be aggressive and threw it straight to him. I was mad. I tried to make up for it, which I did OK,” Barrett said.

Is that an `O’ or an `S’?: Ohio State offensive lineman Billy Price is impressed with Barrett. Really impressed.

“I’d take him over Superman,” Price said after Barrett threw for 349 yards and six touchdowns on Saturday. “That’s my boy. I’d take him over anybody in the nation.”

Sharing the wealth: Nine Ohio State players caught passes, led by Curtis Samuel with nine, tight end Marcus Baugh with four and Noah Brown, Dontre Wilson and Johnnie Dixon with three.

Another number: The 77 points Ohio State scored were the most ever allowed by a Bowling Green team. The previous record was 74 in 1920 by Michigan Normal College.

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By Jim Naveau

[email protected]

Reach Jim Naveau at 567-242-0414 or on Twitter at @Lima_Naveau.

Reach Jim Naveau at 567-242-0414 or on Twitter at @Lima_Naveau.

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