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Amani Hooker declares for NFL Draft

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He will be missed

NCAA Football: Illinois at Iowa Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

The Iowa football team is losing a key piece of its stellar defense to the NFL Draft.

Amani Hooker, the reigning Big Ten Defensive Back of the Year is forgoing his senior year in order to join the elite ranks of NFL players. He’ll be coming off a season where he amassed 65 tackles, 4 interceptions, and 7 passes defended — all coming while he was playing largely out of his typical safety position. The Minneapolis native likely saw what happened to Desmond King when he stuck for his senior year, coupled with the fact safeties just aren’t drafted that high and made the right choice to bolt, especially if rumors of him receiving a second-round grade are to be believed.

Hooker will be remembered as an under-sized recruit whose only power-five offer came from Iowa. He was a Phil Parker project that burst onto the scene last year with the greatest play I’ve witnessed live as an Iowa fan:

He then asserted himself as an instrumental piece on a defense that was fifth in the Big Ten in scoring defense in 2017, and second this year, behind only Michigan’s staunch unit loaded with NFL talent.

His talents were so great, Hooker was inserted as a hybrid safety/linebacker “star” position this year, the first time Iowa’s defense has ever installed such a weapon in its arsenal. We know how risk-averse Kirk Ferentz and Phil Parker tend to be, and they never would’ve taken such a gamble using a player they didn’t have full confidence in.

Best of luck to Amani Hooker in his future NFL endeavors. You will always be remembered for your pick six against Ohio State. Now go get paid.