Hendon Hooker explains decision to sign with Tennessee

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    Photo Credit: Virginia Tech Athletics

    Virginia Tech transfer quarterback Hendon Hooker signed with Tennessee on Friday afternoon a day after announcing his commitment to the Vols. Hooker entered the transfer portal on Dec. 17.

    “I was looking for a place to call home, that I could communicate well with my coaches — my offensive coordinator, my quarterbacks coach and also my head coach,” Hooker told Austin Price and Chris Low on The Nation Sunday night. “Somewhere where I could showcase my talents to the best of my abilities.”

    Hooker was a four-star recruit when he signed with Virginia Tech in the class of 2017 out of Dudley High School in Greensboro, North Carolina. He was considered the No. 337 overall player in the country, the 11th-ranked dual-threat quarterback and the seventh best player in the state of North Carolina.

    His long-standing relationship with Vols running back coach Jay Graham played a role in his decision to come to Rocky Top.

    “It was a delight to hear from him (Graham),” Hooker said. “All the way through my recruiting process, he always showed a lot of love and I appreciated that. Just hearing from him meant a lot.

    “The conversations were great. It was great energy on both sides. Just feeling that love was appreciated. It’s been a long journey and I want to end somewhere where I’m needed and loved. That was something I could feel was genuine from the jump. That’s something I really appreciated. Just coming in, they want me to come in and work hard and compete. That’s something I love to do so that’s all I was asking for. Just somewhere to compete.”

    The 6-foot-4 gunslinger started 15 games for Virginia Tech over the last two season. Hooker threw for 2,894-yards, 22 touchdowns and seven interceptions, while rushing for 1,033 career yards. He averaged 4.2 yards per attempt and rushed for 15 touchdowns.

    Hooker split time this past season with Oregon transfer Braxton Burmeister. He missed Virginia Tech’s first two games of the season due to injury, but returned to action in Week 3 and started seven of the Hokies’ eight remaining games. He completed 65.3% of his passes, while throwing for nine touchdowns, five interceptions and passed for 1,339 yards. Hooker rushed for 620 yards and nine touchdowns.

    In 2019, Hooker threw 13 touchdowns to two interceptions. He completed 61.1% of his passes on his way 1,555 passing yards, while rushing for 356 yards and five touchdowns.

    Hooker has two years of eligibility remaining. He’ll be the fourth quarterback on scholarship when he arrives at Tennessee. After Jarrett Guarantano and JT Shrout transferred to Washington State and Colorado, respectively, sophomore Brian Maurer and freshman Harrison Bailey were the only quarterbacks remaining in the room who were on scholarship.

    The Vols signed four-star quarterback Kaidon Salter out of Cedar Hill, Texas during the early signing period. Mentoring Salter is an aspect Hooker looks forward to doing when he arrives on campus for the spring semester.

    “Yes, yes I would love to,” Hooker responded when asked about taking Salter under his wing. “That’s something me, Coach Pruitt, Coach Weinke talked about. Just coming in and trying to lead the young guys.

    “School starts the 19th, so coming in with a great mindset and trying to bond and gel with my teammates is going to be a big priority for me, as well as getting acquainted with the offense. Just getting in the playbook as fast as I can and as much as I can for this upcoming season and spring ball.”