Heupel Gives Optimistic Injury Update for Vols’ QB Hendon Hooker

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    Hendon Hooker

    Tennessee HC gave an optimistic injury update on QB Hendon Hooker on Monday afternoon. Photo by Andrew Ferguson/Tennessee Athletics.

    Tennessee’s football team has had to battle constant injuries all year in addition to the opponents on the field. Tennessee has lost quarterbacks, running backs, linebackers, linemen on both sides of the ball, and other various positions.

    However, on Saturday night towards the end of the game, the Vols lost their starting signal-caller of the last five weeks. Tennessee QB Hendon Hooker went down due to an injury late in the fourth quarter against Ole Miss and did not return to the field for the Vols’ final drive.

    During the injury, Hooker took some help from Tennessee’s training staff to get off the field. 

    And, additionally, due to the nature of the injury from a visual perspective, many were left wondering about Hooker’s status this week and moving forward. On Monday afternoon, Tennessee head coach Josh Heupel gave a surprisingly optimistic update for those under the impression the injury was long-term.

    “Hendon [Hooker], Tiyon [Evans], and Cade [Mays] are probably day-to-day at this point,” Heupel said during his Monday press conference. “We will see as the week unfolds where we end up with Hendon.”

    Heupel followed up by specifically talking about his quarterback.

    “No, I don’t think it’s a long-term injury,” Heupel said about Hendon Hooker. “His status for this week, we will find out as we go, though.”

    Hendon Hooker has been a do-it-all kind of quarterback this year for Tennessee. Since taking over for an injured Joe Milton III in Week 2, Hooker has led the team in passing every week as the starter. Meanwhile, Hooker has been the best rusher in two of Tennessee’s seven games this year. But Hooker stands out the most at this point of the season in his passing development. Since Week 2, Hooker has thrown for more yards each week of the season besides one, in which he tied his number the previous week. On Monday afternoon, Heupel spoke about his quarterback’s growth.

    “I think his understanding of what we are doing, his preparation has been really good,” Heupel said about Hooker on Monday afternoon. “He has had the ability to grow each and every week. He is playing with more confidence as he has gone through that. Part of that, though, is the growth of the other guys around him too that continue to get better.”

    Hendon Hooker

    (Photo courtesy of Tennessee Athletics Communications)

    Cade Mays, a preseason first-team All-SEC selection and the Week 5 SEC Offensive Lineman of the Week, has started all seven games for Tennessee this year. However, Mays was only able to play three snaps before suffering an injury against Ole Miss.

    Meanwhile, Tennessee running back Evans has an appearance in five games for Tennessee this year, with a total of 493 rushing yards. However, after sustaining an injury against South Carolina, Evans was held out of the Ole Miss contest. Although, interestingly enough, Evans did suit out in full pads for warm-ups, but then returned to the field in street clothes for the actual game.

    Immediately after the Ole Miss game, while the injuries were still fresh, Heupel did not have much of an update on his quarterback.

    “No update on Hendon at this point,” Heupel said after the game. “It’s too early, and we’ll find out as the weekend goes on.”

    Ric Butler is a Knoxville based sports media personality who has covered University of Tennessee athletics since 2017. Most recently, he served as the lead writer for the website of a local radio station. Ric also helped create and host a daily radio show called “The Blitz." Ric’s passion for sports, smooth vocal, and infectious personality have made him popular with both his peers and Vol Nation. Originally from Dallas, Ric didn’t grow up riding horses to school. But he did dream of the big city lights. When not chasing down the latest Tennessee story, Ric can be found watching the WWE, often attempting their moves in an embarrassing fashion.