Urban Meyer: 'Every kid thinks about quitting at some point'

Posted by: Chris Vannini on Thursday May 11, 2017

Malik Hooker was a first-round pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, but he almost quit the Ohio State team as a freshman. Urban Meyer said it’s something every player goes through at some point.

Meyer recently joined The Dan Dakich Show to talk about Hooker’s selection by the Colts and his development. Hooker was a star basketball player in Pennsylvania, but his size suited him better for football.

He signed with OSU as a 3-star football prospect, but he went from being a local hero to the scout team, and that was a difficult adjustment.

“He was a basketball player. He was third string, wasn’t playing, scout team. You get your tail kicked in,” Meyer said. “It’s a different mentality, and it wasn’t going well for him. I always tell people, every kid’s tried to quit at some point. At least in their minds, ‘I don’t want to do this anymore.' He fought through it with the help of a great family, and the rest is a nice history for him.”

Meyer credited Hooker’s mother and family for keeping him down the path.

“He tried to quit,” Meyer said. “His mother was outstanding. Wouldn’t have anything to do with it. He’d come home and try to not come back, and she’d say, ‘You’re going back.’

“Chris Ash got him and started working with him, and Greg Schiano and him became father-son, and he become one of the best safeties in the last 5-10 years.”

Dakich said he had the same thought process as a basketball player at Indiana. “I remember telling my dad I was going to quick Indiana. He was like, ‘OK, you can go to Evansville. What’s that going to do for you?’ Everybody does. I totally get that.”

It was a battle early for Hooker, but it paid off, and Meyer got the player that Hooker’s basketball coach once promised. Meyer likes to say he’ll take the word of the high school coach over anything else. And that doesn’t have to be football.

“I went and watched him. A lot of times, they look like football players playing basketball, but this guy was legit,” Meyer said. “He had 35 points against legit competition in Newcastle, Penn. A great high school basketball coach and program. It’s one of those places you leave and get six inches from the high school coach’s face and said, ‘Tell me about this guy.’ That kind of school, those kind of people, they sold us. Everything he is, they said he would be.

“I just love high school coaches like that. And I’m not talking about the football coach. I’m talking about the basketball coach. He’s a real one. I went there and was like, ‘Holy s---,’ it’s a real, real good basketball program.”

Chris Vannini is in his fifth year with CoachingSearch.com and serves as its managing editor. He has previously written for the Detroit Free Press, The Oakland Press, The State News, MLive.com, 247Sports and SB Nation.  A graduate of Michigan State University, Chris now lives in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.  Be sure to follow @coachingsearch and send emails to chris@coachingsearch.com.