Three of Ohio State’s great all-time defensive backs – safety Malik Hooker, safety Vonn Bell and cornerback Jeff Okudah – were among those chosen on Wednesday to BTN’s Big Ten Football All-Decade Team. Hooker was a first-team choice while Okudah appeared on the second team.
After a terrific 2016 season, Hooker was named a unanimous first-team All-American in his one year as a starter. He ranked third nationally that season in interceptions with seven, interceptions yards with 181, and he was first among all players with three interception return touchdowns, including a critical 16-yarder in a 30-27 double overtime win over Michigan. Hooker was the 15th overall selection in the 2016 NFL Draft by the Indianapolis Colts.
Bell led the Big Ten with six interceptions as a sophomore in 2014, helping the Buckeyes win the first-ever College Football Playoff national championship. The next season, Bell was a first-team All-American and went on to be selected by the New Orleans Saints in the second round of the 2016 NFL Draft. After four seasons with the Saints, he signed earlier this year with the Cincinnati Bengals.
Okudah is one of just four Ohio State defensive backs to be awarded unanimous All-America status and the only to do so while playing cornerback. Okudah was a finalist for the Thorpe Award, which honors the nation’s outstanding defensive back, and started every game for the 13-1 Buckeyes. He intercepted the first three passes of his career – vs. Miami and two vs. Nebraska – and had nine pass break-ups and two forced fumbles to go along with 35 tackles (29 solo).
In April, Okudah was selected No. 3 overall by the Detroit Lions and became the highest-drafted cornerback since Shawn Springs in 1997, who was also taken No. 3 overall.
BTN’s All-Decade Team is being chosen by a panel of experts and will be announced throughout the week across BTN social media platforms. All-Decade members at wide receivers and defensive linemen will be selected tomorrow and then rounded out with quarterback, kicker, punter, all-purpose and coach on July 3.
Ohio State Buckeyes on BTN’s Big Ten Football All-Decade Team
Running Back: Ezekiel Elliott (second team)
Offensive Line: Wyatt Davis (first team), Billy Price (first team), Taylor Decker (second team), Pat Elflein (second team)
Linebacker: Ryan Shazier (second team)
Defensive Back: Malik Hooker (first team), Jeff Okudah (second team), Vonn Bell (second team)