A year later, Hooks is thoroughly enjoying himself. He is very popular among his teammates. He wears a constant smile on his face, and his outgoing personality and lighthearted jokes have made him many friends on both sides of the ball.
"College football has been a great experience," said an enthusiastic Hooks. "I thought high school football was a great experience but this is a lot better. In high school you can dominate but here it's a bit different unless you're someone like Reggie Bush. I'm loving this college football thing. I love my teammates and, sure, we may fight with the "O" but I love this offense, I love them all. Me and Fui [Vakapuna] and Manase [Tonga] may be knocking heads at every practice but I love these guys. I'm having so much fun being out here and it's just a great experience. I'm loving it."
It is strange to see the friendships form between players who pound the tar out of each other on the practice field. When Hooks lines up in his linebacker position with the second team defense, he knows that one of his buddies from the offense is likely to come at him out of the backfield.
"Most of the time it's Manase," laughed Hooks. "Fui is the one with the ball so I gotta square up and take on Manase, and Manase is one hard hitting blocker. When you see Manase heading around that corner you just know to dip that shoulder and go through as hard as you can or you're going to be knocked back."
Hooks began to chuckle a bit because he knows first hand what happens to linebackers when Tonga is keyed in on them with Vakapuna thundering behind him.
"That's the darn thing about that whole situation man," said Hooks. "You don't want to get knocked back and then have to go back and watch it on film over and over with everyone, but it's tough because Fui is a tough runner. Usually, he doesn't get brought down by just one person. It takes a few, and everyone has to be there to put a hit on him during the play."
In high school, Hooks rushed for over 1,100 yards and was credited with 15 touchdowns despite missing two games his senior year due to a minor injury. The decision by BYU coaches to move Hooks to linebacker has been a big positive for the 6-foot-1, 210-pound athlete.
"I love where I'm at," said Hooks. "I liked being a running back, and it was a fun thing, but I really love playing the linebacker position. We have a great group of guys, and Coach Tidwell is a great coach. I love Coach Tidwell, man. Also, this defense is really fun. I mean, it would be nice running behind all those big linemen with Fui and all them, but I really like where I'm at on the defensive side of the ball. It's really exciting for me. I'm having a good time, man. The defense is where all the excitement is at. I'm having a great time, and I love it out here."
It was not all roses for Hooks, however. Coming out of high school and playing against D-I talent was a bit tough for an 18-year old.
"I feel a lot better than last year," said Hooks. "I was a little beat up last year and came in kind of light and didn't have the year like I wanted to. I feel a lot more confident this year and I think going up against the scout team really helped me out too. The first team defense goes up against the scout team offense, and us on the scout team, we gotta go up against those big guys like Jake [Kuresa]."
Kuresa walked by Hooks during the interview. Perhaps in a bid to avoid punishment in a future practice, Hooks conitnued loudly in his praise for the veteran lineman.
"The hardest offensive linemen to go up against last year and this year is Jake Kuresa," said Hooks. "Sete [Aulai] is hard too because he so low and you try to get lower and you can't because he so short and compact."
When Eddie Keele walked by, Hooks raised his voice even more so that BYU's other starting tackle would not feel left out of the love-fest.
"I like to give Eddie a pop now and then too," joked Hooks. "I would also say Eddie is tough to guard too because when he gets a hold of you, you're going to break and hit the ground. As far as this year, trying to read those guards with me being around 210-pounds is hard. You just gotta pop them really quick and try to get off of them to find the ball."