clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

THE RECRUIT WE'RE MOST EXCITED ABOUT: AMANI HOOKER

New, 25 comments

Skills, skills, and more skills.

The right pick up can make all the difference to a program. Same goes for your rental car experience. Pick Enterprise and see how we go the extra mile for our customers every day.

* * *

Confession: I love slash-types in football. Guys who can do multiple things really, really well blow my mind.  Sure, there's something to be said for the elite specialist, the player who's honed his skills at one particular position to their peak.  Shonn Greene didn't need to be able to catch the ball because it was breathtaking enough to watch him stampede over some unsuspecting defensive back (Duong'd) or display surprising grace and pirouette around another defender.  But those guys who can play multiple things and do several different things well?  Amazing.

As a kid, I loved the original "Slash," Kordell Stewart as he made plays in a variety of ways for the Pittsburgh Steelers.  It broke my heart when Antwaan Randle-El racked up a billion yards and scored from seemingly every which way against Iowa, but it was still a thrill to see him do a little bit of everything.  It's been 15 years now, but I still swear -- swear -- that I saw him return a punt in a game for Indiana.  A starting quarterback returning punts -- who the heck does that?!

Iowa has had a strong history of "slash" players.  I came of age watching Tim Dwight play football; Timmy D came to Iowa as a celebrated high school running back, turned into a wide receiver with defense-torching speed at Iowa, and found some time to become one of the greatest return men in the history of the Big Ten, too.  Oh, and he was an absolute menace on punt coverage duties, too.  More recently, Micah Hyde and Desmond King have done the cornerback-return man double dip, with occasionally spectacular results (though Hyde's shown more return prowess with the Green Bay Packers than he did with Iowa). And the most legendary Hawkeye of them all -- Nile Kinnick -- was one of the all-time great "slash" players.  He ran the ball, he threw the ball, he played defense, he kicked the ball.  If there was a way for him to catch his own passes, he probably would have done that, too.

Which brings me to the recruit in this year's class that most makes my heart go pitter patter: DB/WR Amani Hooker. Kinnick and Dwight are all-time greats for Iowa and King's career is on the same trajectory and I don't want to put Hooker in that same category -- which would be wildly premature and very unfair to Hooker. I mention them to provide some context for his skill set, which appears vast.  Hooker had a dazzling senior season when he did a little bit of everything for his team, Park Center. Against De La Salle, Hooker scored four touchdowns: a receiving touchdown, a 67-yard rushing touchdown, and two interceptions returned for a touchdown (he also had another interception that wasn't returned for a touchdown, for good measure).  A few weeks later, against St. Louis Park, Hooker threw for 335 yards and 5 TDs (on 13/17 passing), had a 50-yard rushing touchdown, and also had 8 tackles and two interceptions, one of which he ran back for another touchdown.

For the season, Hooker racked up some pretty surreal stats:

  • 49/72 completions (68.1%), 1042 yards, 14 TD
  • 52 rushes, 478 yards (9.2 ypc), 8 TD
  • 16 receptions, 380 yards (23.8 ypc), 7 TD
  • 78 tackles, 5 TFL, 11 INT (with multiple interceptions returned for touchdowns)

Hooker is primarily a receiver/running back on offense and a safety on defense; he was pressed into service as a quarterback this year due to an injury to their regular starter.  He certainly didn't look too shabby filling in at QB, though.  To be sure, Hooker probably won't be asked to do nearly as many things at Iowa -- according to the recruitniks, he's being recruited by Iowa as a defensive back, so that's where he's likely to spend most of his time. He's certainly not going to see time at quarterback at Iowa and the odds of him seeing much time at running back or wide receiver are pretty low, too; I couldn't even tell you the last Iowa player to get meaningful snaps on both offense and defense.  Hooker's "slash" skills will likely be limited to him playing defensive back and possibly serving as a return man on kickoffs or punts.  But that isn't going to stop me from ooh-ing and aah-ing over his diverse skill set and engaging in the occasional daydream of him breaking big plays on offense and defense.  After all, it's recruiting Christmas -- what better time to indulge in fantasies and hopes than now?

And how about you?  Which Iowa recruit are you most excited to see in action at Kinnick over the next few years? Let us know in the comments.