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Iowa defensive back Amani Hooker defends a pass intended for Illinois tight end Daniel Barker during the Hawkeyes' 63-0 win at Memorial Stadium on Nov. 17.

IOWA CITY — Amani Hooker doesn’t plan to slow down anytime soon.

That approach has led the Iowa defensive back to where he is at today, a week away from when his future will be decided as NFL teams make their 2019 draft choices.

"I’m feeling better and better about my decision to move on the deeper I get into the process," Hooker said. "I feel like there are a lot of possibilities out there for me. The feedback I’m getting is good."

That feedback followed a breakthrough junior season for the Big Ten defensive back of the year.

Hooker won the award despite lining up throughout much of the final two thirds of the season at a hybrid safety-linebacker position that Iowa now labels "cash" in its defensive alignment.

It’s a role that required the versatility that the 5-foot-11, 210-pound Minneapolis native brought to the field.

In addition to dealing with things 12-to-15 yards deep from his strong safety position, Hooker spent time about half that distance from the line of scrimmage.

"It’s a position that I was cut out to play, a mix of quickness and strength and the ability to make quick, accurate decisions," Hooker said.

The last part of that is what has had Hooker jetting from one NFL city to the next in recent weeks, viewed by NFL scouts as a potential safety or nickel back at the next level.

His ability to return punts only adds value to his possible selection as a second- or third-round choice in the three-day, seven-round draft, which begins next Thursday in Nashville.

Running a time of 4.48 seconds in the 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine in February in Indianapolis and performing well in the drills he ran during the Hawkeyes’ Pro Day last month in Iowa City have only helped add to the list of NFL possibilities.

"It’s about the total package you can bring to the table," Hooker said. "You’ve got to be able to think fast. You can’t just be out there playing and using your athletic ability. There could be a tight end coming at you, you need to get off the block. Or, it could be a 5-10, 180-pound receiver who can fly. You’ve got to deal with it all."

Hooker proved his abilities to get that done last season with Iowa.

Defending the middle of the field deep when needed and lining up around six yards beyond the line of scrimmage as a fifth defensive back in an altered Hawkeye look, Hooker displayed the ability to break to the ball as needed.

He finished the year with 65 tackles, second on the team behind draft-eligible free safety Jake Gervase. Hooker broke up a team-leading seven passes and joined Gervase and Geno Stone in leading the Hawkeyes with four interceptions apiece.

In the months since making his decision to forego his final season of eligibility, Hooker has done what he can to position himself for a future in the NFL.

"I feel like my preparation and my performance, at the Combine and at Pro Day, and being willing to do whatever teams have asked me to do, I feel like I’ve put myself in a good position," Hooker said. "Coach (Phil) Parker does a great job of teaching us how to play and putting us in a position to compete at the next level. I feel like I’m ready for that next challenge."

His name has been mentioned as draft possibility for a number of teams, including the Vikings, Eagles, Titans and Raiders.

Hooker isn’t playing favorites, hoping only for a chance with a team which will give him the best opportunity.

He plans to watch the draft with family and friends in the Twin Cities and make his next move from there.

"To leave early, it was a tough decision, but I feel like it was the best thing at the right time for me," Hooker said. "The draft, it will be an anxious time, but in a good way because I know in my heart that this was the best decision I could make. It’s all good."

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