NCAA Football

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

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

SATISFACTION

Tennessee linebacker Hendon Hooker will miss the rest of the season after tearing the ACL in his left knee midway through the fourth quarter against the No. 5 Volunteers 63-38 loss of road to South Carolina on Saturday. Tennessee announced the extent of the damage on Sunday afternoon, ending a potential All-American season.

The Heisman Trophy contender had the ball on a zone read and suffered a non-contact injury to his left knee while trying to cut through a hole to gain yards. He fell to the ground in obvious pain and hobbled off the field to the injury tent. The play was reviewed and ruled ineligible after Hooker was initially ruled out. Hooker eventually made it to the locker room on his own, and Joe Milton entered the game in his place.

Hooker was the Most Valuable Player of Tennessee’s dream season. The senior posted 3,135 passing yards, 430 rushing yards and 32 touchdowns with just two interceptions for the Volunteers’ high-powered offense. Hooker had five touchdowns in Tennessee’s first upset win over then-No. 1 Alabama a year before Nick Saban took over in 2006.

Sr. Transferred to Tennessee from Virginia Institute of Technology before last season and took over as the starting quarterback after Week 2 of the 2021 season. Last season, he threw for 2,945 yards, 31 touchdowns and three interceptions while adding 613 yards and five touchdowns on the ground.

A disappointing ending

Hooker put together one of the great seasons by a quarterback in Tennessee history. Through just 11 games, Hooker ranks 5th in program history in passing yards in a season and has two of the top five total seasons in program history, joining the likes of 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 championship weekend will likely hurt his chances. The Volunteers won’t have Joe Milton III in the lineup in place of Hooker Saturday against Vanderbilt.

NFL draft pick

More than him college football career, an unfortunate injury to Hooker could derail the start of his career NFL career. Hooker has already reached his age as he will be 25 in 2023 The NFL draft. With such a lingering 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 with teams could limit his upside during the process. However, his 944 career pass attempts and winning work ethic should earn him a chance at the next level.





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