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How Marcus Hooker can add depth to Ohio State secondary

Marcus Hooker-Ohio State-Ohio State football-Buckeyes
Marcus Hooker could be a breakout candidate for Ohio State. (Birm/Lettermen Row)

Ohio State Football

How Marcus Hooker can add depth to Ohio State secondary

Ohio State had one of the best seasons in program history last year, and it came with the help of some young players. Now as the younger Buckeyes enter another year for the Buckeyes, they may be expected to take on expanded roles. Lettermen Row is breaking down a play from each key inexperienced Buckeye and how it can help provide a glimpse into each of their futures. Next up: How Marcus Hooker can crack the rotation in the secondary.


COLUMBUS — Marcus Hooker knows the expectation he’s up against. He knows the Ohio State comparison he’s always going to get.

The rising redshirt sophomore is always going to be compared to his brother, former Buckeyes star Malik Hooker. But none of that really matters for Marcus Hooker. What matters is creating his own path to Ohio State stardom, and that could start this season.

After losing three of the starters in a secondary that dominated opponents and sent two cornerbacks to the first round of the NFL draft, Ohio State needs members of the defense to step in and carve out a role. Hooker could be perfect for that, and he could help round out a deep unit.

“I think there’s a lot of them that are going to have bigger roles, right?” Ohio State defensive coordinator and secondary coach Kerry Coombs said. “You lost three starters, so we would have every expectation that every one of those kids that was competing at the frontend of spring, Sevyn Banks and Cam Brown and Marcus Hooker, Josh Proctor, Marcus Williamson and Tyreke Johnson, they’re all going to have bigger roles. I have every expectation of getting a lot of guys on the field, and I think it’s a talented group of players.

“They’re just inexperienced, but I expect a lot of those guys are going to get ready to go compete and play in the fall.”

Marcus Hooker-Ohio State-Ohio State football-Buckeyes

Marcus Hooker has a a chance to become a contributor for Ohio State. (Birm/Lettermen Row)

Hooker is inexperienced, but so was his brother in 2016 when he burst onto the scene and became a huge boost to the Ohio State defense. Could Marcus Hooker do the same? He has flashed plenty of potential during his two seasons with the Buckeyes.

And this spring, in the limited action the Buckeyes were able to practice, Hooker looked like a physically-changed player who added muscle. That won’t hurt his chances of earning playing time.

If he can work his way into the conversation at safety, he might not have to worry about being compared to his sibling so much. He’ll have his own impact on the Ohio State defense.

The play: Hooker has always been a physical athlete, and he showed it in the second half of the Buckeyes blowout win over Maryland.

Marcus Hooker-Ohio State-Ohio State football-Buckeyes

Marcus Hooker can come downhill and make plays for Ohio State.

On a third down in the fourth quarter, a swing pass was thrown to the flat. Hooker came downhill, met the back just a yard past the line of scrimmage and made a perfect open-field tackle to end a drive. It’s not anything flashy, and it won’t make a highlight reel. But it showed that he’s not afraid to come up and make plays from the safety spot, something Jordan Fuller was great at during his Buckeyes career.

However Marcus Hooker finds a way onto the field, he’ll take it. His physicality might be his ticket.

Spencer Holbrook

Spencer Holbrook covers Ohio State football and basketball for Lettermen Row. A graduate of Ohio University's Scripps School of Journalism, he's in his second year covering the Buckeyes. He was previously the sports editor at Ohio's student newspaper, The Post, where he covered Ohio University football and men's basketball.