Bobcats lose pass-catching threat to the NCAA portal

For three seasons, Shane Hooks has offered up glimpses of tantalizing potential as a big-play wide receiver.

The fulfillment of that potential will apparently take place elsewhere.

Hooks, a third-year sophomore wideout, announced Monday he had entered the NCAA transfer portal through social media. He doesn’t expect to be back in Athens for 2021.

Ohio receiver Shane Hooks (left), seen here in 2019, announced his entry into the NCAA transfer portal on Monday, Dec. 28, 2020. Photo courtesy of Ohio Athletics/Abigail Dean

“This has to be one of the hardest decisions I have ever made in my life,” Hooks wrote in a post on Twitter. “But I believe it is time for me to start a new chapter in my life and my football career. Ohio University I will forever be grateful for the opportunity you have given me at a great education and the ability to continue to play football at the next level.

“With that being said, I am officially in the transfer portal and my recruitment is 100% open.”

Hooks had a team-high eight receptions for 120 yards and a touchdown in the Bobcats’ abbreviated 2020 season. In two plus seasons – Hooks took a redshirt while appearing in a handful of games in 2018 – the 6-foot-5, 205-pounder totaled 34 catches for 635 yards and six touchdowns.

Hooks, 21, appeared in 21 games with four starts. He broke through as a redshirt freshman in 2019 with 26 catches for 515 yards. He tied for the team lead with five touchdowns and led OU with an average of 19.8 yards per reception.

An under-recruited prospect out of Orlando, Fla., Hooks was a low three-star (graded .8054 by recruit coming out of Olympia HS. He’ll have three seasons of eligibility remaining at his next stop thanks to the NCAA waiver on eligibility counts for 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Hooks came to Athens as raw prospect, with lots of natural ability but a lack of refinement in the intricacies of playing the position at a high level. He made strides in that area thanks to long-time OU position coach Dwayne Dixon, who Hooks thanked in his social media post.

“I would like to give a big thanks to the entire coaching staff for welcoming me in with open arms. Coach Dixon, without you I don’t think I would be where I am today,” Hooks wrote. “You believed in me when nobody else did. You taught me a lot on and off the field and for that I am truly grateful for you, coach.”

As for Ohio, the Bobcats had just four other wide receivers not receptions in 2020. Fourth-year junior Isiah Cox (7-142) will give OU a clear No. 1 option, while sophomore slot receivers Tyler Walton (3-7) and Jerome Buckner (2-12) were not heavily involved for a variety of reasons in 2020. Fifth-year senior Cam Odom (2-35) has the most experience, and is eligible to return due to the NCAA waiver but Ohio has not declared which seniors have elected to extend their eligibility.

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