New Safety Malik Hooker Grew Up Cheering For Colts

Intro: On Thursday night, the Colts selected safety Malik Hooker from Ohio State with the 15th overall pick. Despite growing up near Pittsburgh, Hooker has been a Colts' fan since the days of Joseph Addai.

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INDIANAPOLIS – The kid from an hour north of Pittsburgh growing up a Colts fan.

It's not something you hear very often, but that was childhood life for Malik Hooker.

Things for Hooker came full circle on Thursday night, when the '317' area code popped up on his cell phone just before 10:00 p.m. ET.

No need to create a player on Madden this time.

Real life, Malik Hooker was joining the Indianapolis Colts.

"I definitely didn't expect it at all," Hooker said minutes after the Colts took him with the 15th overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft.

"When Indianapolis called my phone, I instantly got excited because the Colts used to be my favorite team growing up."

In going 15th overall, Hooker became the first safety in franchise history to ever be taken in Round One by the Colts.

The 21-year-old Hooker is relatively new to the game of football, compared to most draft picks.

A budding basketball career kept Hooker off the high school gridiron until his junior year.

But once the football talent started showing up on Friday nights, the days on the hardwood took a backseat.

At Ohio State, Hooker redshirted in 2014, before seeing some reserve action the following season in a loaded secondary.

Hooker's talent was too immense to not have in the starting lineup last year for the Buckeyes.

His seven interceptions, the third most in college football, helped Ohio State earn a spot in the College Football Playoff.

While Hooker acknowledges his tackling needs some fine-tuning, his instincts in coverage are not seen every day.

"We thought he was a top-10 pick ever since we laid eyes on this kid," Chuck Pagano said on Thursday night. "He's a rare, rare athlete. We know he's a ball hawk

"He's just one of those guys that you stick him in centerfield and say, 'see ball, get ball.' Let's not make it any harder than that."

Instead of attending this year's draft in Philadelphia, Hooker turned down the NFL's invite, electing to stay in Western Pennsylvania with family and friends.

Before Hooker learned of his new home in the Midwest on Thursday night, he took his mind off things by heading an hour south to Pittsburgh to visit the Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC.

"Not many people get to experience this life," Hooker said of becoming a professional athlete. "I wanted to go (to the hospital) and share my day with less fortunate kids that unfortunately got sick with cancer, Sickle Cell or something like that. Just to put a smile on their face.

"I knew my day would be full of smiles so I wanted to brighten someone else's day up."

Hooker is in the process of finishing up rehab on surgeries he had back in January for a torn labrum and a hernia.

On Thursday night, Hooker said he's about 85-90 percent back and will likely sit out the team's offseason program, before being ready to go for Training Camp.

It's then, in late July, when Hooker will no longer have to have the video game controller in his hand to imagine being on the Colts.

"My cousin was a Colts' fan first (and) we used to always watch the games together," Hooker further explained of his Horseshoe fandom.

"I was like, 'Man, I watch the Colts so much I might as well be a fan.' Ever since then, that's been the team that I've rooted for."

Hooker can now eliminate "rooted for" to "play for" when it comes to the Colts.

Malik Hooker - Round 1 - Pick 15 - Safety - Ohio State University

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