Hendon Hooker injury: Tennessee star QB to miss rest of season after tearing ACL in loss to South Carolina


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Tennessee quarterback Hendon Hooker will miss the rest of the season after he suffered a torn ACL in his left knee midway through the fourth quarter of the No. 5 Volunteers’ 63-38 road loss to South Carolina on Saturday. Tennessee announced the extent of injury on Sunday afternoon, which ends a potential All-America season. 

The Heisman Trophy contender kept the ball on a zone read and went down in a non-contact injury to his left knee as he was attempting to cut through a hole to gain yardage. He went to the ground in obvious pain and limped off the field and to the injury tent. The play was reviewed and ruled a fumble after Hooker was initially ruled down. Hooker eventually walked to the locker room under his own power as backup Joe Milton entered the game in his place. 

Hooker has been the most valuable player of Tennessee’s dream season. The senior posted 3,135 yards passing, 430 yards rushing and 32 touchdowns with only two interceptions for the Volunteers’ high-powered offense. Hooker threw five touchdowns in Tennessee’s first upset victory over then No. 1 Alabama since the year before Nick Saban took over in 2006. 

The senior transferred to Tennessee from Virginia Tech prior to last season, and took over as its staring quarterback after Week 2 of the 2021 season. He threw for 2,945 yards, 31 touchdowns and three interceptions last season while adding 613 yards and five touchdowns on the ground.

Disappointing end

Hooker put together one of the great seasons by a quarterback in Tennessee history. In just 11 games, Hooker ranks No. 5 in program history for passing yards in a season and has two of the top five total touchdown seasons in program history, joining names like Peyton Manning and Josh Dobbs. 

Hooker will still have a chance to earn a trip to New York as a Heisman Trophy finalist for his efforts. Unfortunately, missing the regular-season finale and missing championship weekend will likely hurt his chances. The Volunteers will not be the same with Joe Milton III in the lineup in place of Hooker Saturday vs. Vanderbilt. 

NFL Draft stock

More than his college football career, Hooker’s unfortunate injury has a chance to derail the beginning of his NFL career. Hooker was already dragged down by his age as he will be 25 at the time of the 2023 NFL Draft. With such a long-ranging injury, Hooker could be out for his entire first season in the league. 

CBS Sports’ Ryan Wilson rates Hooker as a Day 2 pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, but it’s unclear how much his inability to work out for teams could limit his upside during the process. However, his 944 career pass attempts and a winning work ethic should still earn him an opportunity at the next level. 





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