Iverson Hooks stepped out of his first college football season at UAB and into the transfer portal.
His first season didn't go as he'd hoped. The high school quarterback turned college receiver had just one catch for 13 yards, and that came in the season-opening win over Alabama A&M. He didn't play in another game. He had challenges getting through his freshman season, so he looked into finding a new home. He entered the portal before the Blazers headed to the Bahamas Bowl.
"I actually wasn't worried," Hooks said. "The day I got in the portal, the same day, probably 10 coaches hit me up. I really wasn't worried about where I was going to go. I just put my faith in God."
Hooks said he wasn't sure if incoming head coach Trent Dilfer was interested in keeping him in the program. Eventually, the phone rang, and Dilfer was on the other end.
"With him being in the league and playing quarterback, he knew exactly what he wanted to do," Hooks said. "He didn't want to be a run-first team anymore. He said he was going to put the ball in receiver's hands."
The call was encouraging.
"At the same time, coaches can tell you this but do something else," Hooks said.
All it took was a visit to the UAB Football Operations Center to see that wasn't the case this time.
"When I got up there, he had already set it in stone," Hooks said. "He showed me the playbook. When I saw that, I just put my faith in him, and we're here working every day. I just had to come back with a better mentality. When I went home, I just focused, trained and got better. When I came back, I was ready."
UAB concluded its second week of spring practice on Friday. It's been a chance for Hooks, as well as the rest of the Blazers, to put the playbook to work on the field. It's always a chance for them to see how Dilfer and the coaching staff operates on the field.
"I wouldn't say hard, but I would say hard at the same time," Hooks said. "(Dilfer) coaches you as hard as he can. He's not going to let the small things slip. He wants you to be the best player you can be. Him coaching like that that lets me know I can put my faith in him that he's got my back forever."
It hasn't taken long during spring practice to see that Hooks fits nicely into what is a deep group of wide receivers. The 5-foot-10, 175-pound Pike Road High product is showing the ability to turn short receptions into big games. He is making plays in the intermediate passing game and has the ability to stretch the field when needed.
What he wants to do, though, is fit in and do what is asked of him.
"This year, everybody has a different role, no matter if you're a first down guy, if you're a run-after-catch guy, if you're a possession catch guy, as long as you play your role, we're going to be a really good team," Hooks said.
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