Tennessee QB Hendon Hooker Receives Brutal Injury News

by Nick Geddes
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(Photo by Bryan Lynn/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Tennessee (9-2) announced Sunday that quarterback Hendon Hooker sustained a torn ACL in his left knee Saturday during his team’s 63-38 loss to South Carolina (7-4).

Hooker, 24, suffered the injury early in the fourth quarter when he went down on a non-contact play. He was running to his left on a speed-option play before his knee gave out on him when he planted to make a cut upfield. Hooker walked gingerly off the field and went into the locker room. Joe Milton III took over down the stretch, as he will for the final two games of the season.

“Hendon’s incredible journey has been defined by faith, perseverance and strength,” Tennessee said in a statement. “Obstacles have never stood in the way on his path to greatness. Forever a Tennessee legend and the ultimate teammate, we know Hendon will come back stronger than ever as he embarks on a promising NFL future.

“Thank you, Hendo.”

Hooker, the redshirt senior, was enjoying a historic season in Knoxville, the last of his college career. In 11 games this season, Hooker threw for 3,135 yards with 32 total touchdowns and just two interceptions on 69.6% passing. He led the Volunteers to their first No. 1 ranking since 1998 after Tennessee notably defeated Alabama (9-2) on Oct. 15. Hooker was likely heading to New York City next month as a finalist for the Heisman Trophy.

He is already a semifinalist for a plethora of awards, including: the Maxwell Award, the Walter Camp Player of the Year, the Davey O’Brien Award, the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award [finalist] and Jason Witten Man of the Year.

Hendon Hooker Heads to NFL as Highly-Decorated Passer

Hooker’s play has vaulted him into the conversation as a top-10 selection in the 2023 NFL Draft. Playing in the explosive, pass-happy offense of head coach Josh Heupel, Hooker took his game to another level after transferring from Virginia Tech in 2020. He started 15 games in four seasons with the Hokies, totaling 2,894 passing yards with 37 total touchdowns and seven interceptions.

Those numbers exploded in year one under Heupel, as he racked up 2,945 passing yards with 36 total touchdowns and three interceptions. He leaves Tennessee as one of its most-decorated passers of all-time. After 24 games, Hooker ranks fifth in passing touchdowns (58) and eighth in passing yards (6,080) in the program’s history.

“It’s fun to watch, how everyone else rallies around him and the command he has out there of our offense,” Heupel told ESPN earlier this month. “Sometimes he makes it look easy, but it’s his attention to detail, his work ethic and competitive spirit that make him so special. He’s somebody they’re going to remember around here for a long time.”

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