Tennessee confirms Hendon Hooker suffered a cruciate ligament tear in South Carolina

Tennessee’s miserable loss at South Carolina on Saturday night was marred by the sight of the star quarterback Hendon hooker collapsed on the pitch in pain after sustaining a non-contact left knee injury in the fourth quarter. Upon further evaluation, the news is as bad as the Vols feared in the immediate aftermath — Hooker, a player so important to Tennessee’s turnaround Josh HeupelShe suffered a cruciate ligament tear, Tennessee announced on Sunday evening. It’s a sobering and unfair end to a short but brilliant career with the Vols for Hooker, a super senior who transferred from Virginia Tech to Tennessee after the 2020 season.

With Tennessee trailing 49-31 early in the fourth quarter, Hooker, one of the top contenders for the Heisman Trophy and looking to be a finalist in New York City next month, ran to his left in a speed option game and planted, to make a cut upfield. The turf gave way as he put his left leg down and buckled his knee. He let go of the football and clutched his knee with obvious discomfort.

After carefully walking off the field into the medical tent, Hooker headed into the locker room as a backup quarterback Joe Milton III finished the game and will now take offense for the last two games of the season.

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Tennessee posted the following statement on social media:

“Quarterback Hendon Hooker tore a cruciate ligament in his left knee on Saturday night. Hendon and the Hooker family appreciate all of your prayers and support.

“Hendon’s incredible journey was one of faith, perseverance and strength. There were never any obstacles in his way on his way 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.”

Heupel said after the game that Hooker would be evaluated further when the team returned to Knoxville, and those investigations concluded the injury’s severity was as bad as feared.

“That was probably one of the worst things I’ve seen out there,” the guard left Jerome Carvin said after the game. “Just to know how hard he works, probably the hardest working guy I’ve ever seen, ever played with. It’s so unfortunate to happen to a guy like that. But if I know anything, I know he’ll surely recover from it. Man, he’s a warrior, so I know he’ll do it. “I haven’t had a chance to[speak to him]but I love this kid.”

In 11 games in 2022, Hooker completed 229 of 329 passes for 3,135 yards, along with 27 touchdowns and only two interceptions, plus 430 rushing yards and five touchdowns. He was brilliant in Tennessee’s memorable victories over Pittsburgh, Florida, LSU, Alabama and Kentucky. Hooker went into Saturday’s game as the nation’s leader in yards per attempt and ranked second in the FBS in passer rating, and he also led the SEC in completion percentage and total penalty.

It took Hooker just 24 games on Heupel’s fast-moving big-play offense to record the fifth most touchdown passes (58) in Tennessee history, and he will also finish the program for eighth in career passing yards (6,080 ) and sixth overall offense (7,126) and last season leave single-season career records for completion percentage and passer rating.

He was named a semi-finalist for a number of national honors and hardware including the Maxwell Award, Walter Camp Player of the Year, Davey O’Brien Award, Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award (Finalist) and Jason Witten Man of the Year .

After not opening the 2021 season as a starter, Hooker streaked for 3,561 total yards (2,945 passing, 616 rushing), threw 31 touchdown passes with just three interceptions, and rushed for five more touchdowns as Tennessee went 7-6 in Heupel’s debut season graduated

Hooker started 15 of his 25 games in four seasons at Virginia Tech, where he totaled 2,894 passing yards, 22 touchdowns and seven interceptions and 1,033 rushing yards and 15 touchdowns.

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