Margin Hooks is in the middle of 27-game catch streak
Perhaps you've heard of it...the new, best-selling biography of BYU receiver Margin Hooks entitled, "It's My Life -- Hold on for the Ride."
Ok, so you haven't heard of it. It's probably because it hasn't been written yet. However, after spending a few minutes with the outgoing, chatty Texan and you have the makings for a most entertaining book.
A transplant from Waco, Texas, the 6-0, 185 senior came to Provo back in 1996, just in time to watch as a redshirt from the sidelines as the Cougars posted a 14-1 record, including a win over Kansas State in the Cotton Bowl -- just a couple hours from Hooks' hometown. It's been a valuable and rewarding experience for Hooks, One he says, in some ways, he wasn't exactly prepared for.
"It was a culture shock," Hooks admits." The name of this chapter would be, 'What have I gotten myself into.' When I first got here, it was a change of pace. It was totally different than what I was used to. I was finally out of the house and didn't want anyone telling me what to do. When I got here, it was like, 'You can't do this and you can't do that.' From Day One, I had to learn to adjust.
"Now, I've learned you do what you have to in order to get through life. Once I realized certain rules were created to help you achieve, not hold you back, it became a little easier. It's just another challenge in life. You learn to adapt, or you don't. For me, I've learned to adapt and am just that much closer to obtaining my goals.
"I came to BYU because I really believed it was the best situation for me. I knew I would get a chance to play football and I really wanted to get a degree from BYU. I didn't know a lot about the school, but I knew what a degree from BYU meant. A degree from BYU ranks right up there with some of the more prestigious schools in the country. That is just as important to me as playing football."
Four years later, Hooks is on pace to graduate this year with a degree in broadcast journalism and is only a few hundred yards away from becoming the Cougars' all-time leading receiver.
A major factor in Hooks' success at BYU stems from his family back in Waco. Hooks, the son of Larue and Margin, Sr., is the youngest of six children and is the product of one happy childhood.
"When you're the youngest of six, you have to be a little creative in order to survive, Hooks jokingly admits. "I have a great family. They would definitely have their own chapter in this book. My older brothers and sisters have always set a good example for me and have always helped me out.
"My parents are the best. I can't say enough about my mom and dad. They have both always been there for me, giving me advice and always, always encouraging me. I wouldn't be anywhere if it weren't for them. They taught me how to accept life and to take responsibility for my actions.
"They've always taught me that things would mean a lot more to me if I worked at it and accomplished it myself, rather than having someone just give it to me. That's the way I feel about my career. Someone gave me the opportunity to go to school and to play football, but I had to be responsible from that point on. I can say I have no regrets and have a sense of pride in the things I have accomplished and know, because of the way I was raised, I still have a lot to accomplish as well. As long as you are breathing, there's still something to go out and accomplish. If it weren't for my parents instilling this in me, none of this would have been possible."
Another important figurehead in Hooks' life has been BYU head coach LaVell Edwards. It was only a year or two ago when Hooks went in to see the legendary coach in his office -- just to "shoot the breeze."
"I remember joking with him and asking him when he was going to finally hang it up. He told me he would be done when I was done. I don't want to be the reason he's leaving, but I'm happy for him. He's the greatest and this place will never have another guy like him.
"In my book, he's what I would call a man. As a player and as a person, you have no choice but to give him total respect. If I could have one wish, it would be that all men could be just like him. He's fair. He's just. He's honest. He's everything a man should be.
"If there is a problem, he'll talk to you, face-to-face. He won't talk about you or go behind your back. He'll talk to you like a man. It's like I said, you have no choice but to respect him. If I were really writing this book, the chapter dedicated to LaVell would be called, "Almost Perfect."
Then, there's the chapter on the barbershop. The barber shop you ask? We'll according to Hooks, Mr. C's deserves a little mention in the book. Mr. C's is a place where Hooks says he goes to get a 10-minute haircut, but ends up spending a couple hours with Stimp (the barber) and some old friends.
"When I'm back in Waco, it's a must. I have to go see Stimp and all my friends. It started back in high school. Stimp used to give me free haircuts. He said I was like free advertising. He would give me a haircut with the latest design or a fancy part and then all my friends would ask where I got my hair cut. It wasn't long before all my friends were hanging out at Stimp's.
"I always go over there to find out all the latest on my friends. They tell me they've seen me play and they tell me what the team is doing right, or what we're doing wrong. I even get advice on what I can do to improve my game. To this day, he still gives me free hair cuts. He's become a close friend.
"The only bad thing is, I did such a good job advertising for him, I have to wait a couple hours in line just to get a haircut. Back in high school, I only had to wait a few minutes. It's cool though. While I'm waiting, I usually run out and grab Stimp some lunch. Hey, you've gotta take care of those who take care of you."
The potential best-seller wouldn't be complete without a chapter on football and the impact it has had on Hooks' life.
"Football is pretty important to me. It's something I've been working hard at since I was seven years old. It's a part of my life and I learned to set some goals at an early age. It's sort of like a vessel that has helped me accomplish other goals in life as well. Like graduating, if it weren't for football, I wouldn't be graduating from college this year. I wouldn't have come to BYU and I wouldn't be graduating later this year.
"Football is my art. Some people play the piano, cross-stitch or draw. I play football. It's my way of expressing myself. It would be pretty hard imaging my life without football."
Off the field, as many around the athletic department will attest, he is a fun-loving, chatty, animated, charming, genuine, sincere and friendly character. On the field, Hooks says he undergoes a complete metamorphosis.
"Anywhere from an hour to two before the game, I go through a complete change. I'm not the same person. It's that point in time where I like to express myself in a different way. When I go on the field I believe there is no one out there who is going to stop me. It's when I hit the field it all comes out. I don't think that's all that unique, however.
"The difference between me and a lot of other guys, I leave it all out on the field. And when I'm off the field, I'm back to my old self. I believe what happens on the field, stays on the field.
"Not too many people get the opportunity to see that, or at least notice it. It's real. Sometimes it can surprise me a little. It's like I'm in a zone or something. Different people do different things to prepare for a game. This is my way of getting pumped up and ready to play."
Over the year, football has been the source of some great accomplishments and some heart-tugging memories.
"When I was a sophomore, my mom came to visit and stay for our game against UNLV. It was her birthday. I remember asking her what she wanted for her birthday. She told me, 'I want you to score a touchdown'. That really bothered me at first. I remember thinking, 'Now why would she go and ask for something like that -- something I have no control over.'
To make a long story short, they called my number on a route across the middle. Kevin Feterik) hit me in stride and I was off to the races. I scored the longest touchdown of my career (83 yards) and then went over to the sidelines. I found my mom sitting in the stands, held up the ball, and blew her a kiss. That's been one of the greatest memories of my career."
Perhaps the most intriguing thing about Hooks is no matter how long you talk to him, or spend time getting to know him, or how many books are ever written about him, you may still really never know him -- at least the way he knows himself.
"No one really knows me. I talk a lot and love to be around and help people out. But, I don't let people know everything there is to know about me. If I did, I may lose some type of advantage. It's like I'm playing cards and as far as you know, I have a loaded deck. It's always good to keep people guessing a little. It creates an advantage and to me, that's what life is about -- having an advantage."