Hendon Hooker’s Vols career ends with ACL injury; teammates react

AP photo by Artie Walker Jr. / Tennessee quarterback Hendon Hooker injures his left knee while making a cut during the fourth quarter of Saturday night's game at South Carolina. On Sunday afternoon, the Vols said the sixth-year senior has a torn ACL, ending his season and his Tennessee career.

The most efficient quarterback in Tennessee history has taken his final snap for the Volunteers.

Tennessee announced Sunday afternoon that sixth-year senior Hendon Hooker tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee during the fourth quarter of Saturday night’s 63-38 loss at South Carolina. The 6-foot-4, 218-pounder from Greensboro, North Carolina, was replaced by Joe Milton III, who is expected to take the reins for the remainder of a season that resumes this weekend at Vanderbilt.

“Hendon’s incredible journey has been defined by faith, perseverance and strength,” Tennessee posted on its Twitter account. “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.”

After spending four years at Virginia Tech before transferring, Hooker threw for 6,080 yards in his two seasons with the Vols, racking up 58 touchdown passes while getting intercepted just five times. He also rushed 270 times for 1,046 yards and 10 scores.

Hooker set Tennessee’s single-season efficiency record last year with a rating of 181.41, with this season’s clip of 175.51 ranking second.

“You’ve been the best brother and teammate I could ask for,” senior receiver Cedric Tillman posted on Twitter. “You’re going to come back stronger than ever.”

Said senior left guard Jerome Carvin: “Thank you for bringing our team to new heights.”

Hooker guided Tennessee to an 8-0 start this season that included the top position in the College Football Playoff rankings. Though the Vols have lost two of their past three games, they lead the nation in both total offense (540.4 yards per contest) and scoring offense (46.5 points a game).

Contact David Paschall at dpaschall@timesfreepress.com.

Updated with more information at 10:40 p.m. on Nov. 20, 2022.