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Josh Heupel Supports the Hendon Hooker Heisman Campaign Entering South Carolina Game

Hendon Hooker Josh Heupel
Tennessee’s Josh Heupel and Hendon Hooker. Photo By Andrew Ferguson/Tennessee Athletics

It’s safe to say that Tennessee head coach Josh Heupel is safely aboard the “Hendon Hooker for Heisman” train.

Heupel and Hooker’s success have gone hand in hand at Tennessee ever since Hooker took over for an injured Joe Milton III in the second game of the 2021 season. As the starting quarterback for Tennessee, Hooker has a record of 15-6 and led the Volunteers to a No.1 College Football Playoffs weekly ranking for the first time in program history.

After racking up wins against Florida, Alabama, and LSU this season, Hooker’s name has been at the center of more and more Heisman conversations. Including one from Heupel, himself.

“I haven’t gotten a chance to watch every quarterback across this country and watch every rep,” Heupel said during South Carolina week. “[Hendon] is playing at as high a level as I have ever had anybody, and I’ve had Heisman guys. He is in complete command of what we are doing. You look at the efficiency of how he is playing, the ability to take care of the football, the dynamic plays that he has made with his arm and with his feet.”

Heupel was the Heisman Trophy runner-up in 2000 as the quarterback of the Oklahoma Sooners.

Hooker has gotten to this position in the season by winning, of course, but also putting up some ridiculous numbers for a second straight season. The Greensboro, North Carolina native is currently leading the SEC in QBR (181.81) and completion percentage (71.08) and is third in the conference in passing yards (2,888). Hooker also uses his legs to his advantage as an x-factor and has a knack for being able to extend plays to find more yards.

“We don’t look like we do offensively without him,” Heupel continued on to say. “He certainly is deserving of being in that (Heisman) conversation. Have to go play the right way here the last couple of weeks and hope he has that opportunity. I believe he should.”

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ESPN’s latest Heisman prediction chart from Wednesday has Hooker as the No. 2 candidate behind a familiar name for those following the race. Hooker, at +375 odds, is second behind Ohio State quarterback CJ Shroud and in front of North Carolina quarterback Drake Maye.

The ESPN model has Shroud with 54 total points and eight first-place votes. Hooker, on the other hand, has 49 total points and four first-place votes.

“Following the loss to Georgia, Hooker slipped from the No. 1 spot to No. 2,” ESPN stated in the article. “His 195-yard game with zero touchdowns and one interception caused worry. This week, he bounced back against Missouri to solidify his standing in second place and lead the Volunteers to a 66-24 Senior Day win. He threw for 355 yards and accounted for four touchdowns, three passing and one rushing. With South Carolina and Vanderbilt, respectively, left in the regular season, Hooker can continue to make his case over the next two weeks. He has thrown for 2,888 yards and rushed for 405 yards this season.”

The Heisman Trophy presentation will be on Saturday, Dec. 10 from New York City.

South Carolina will host Hendon Hooker and No. 5 Tennessee this Saturday night in Columbia at 7:00 p.m. ET.

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