5-at-10: Hendon Hooker's amazing run, still celebrating, Bryce Harper's big moment

Tennessee quarterback Hendon Hooker (5) throws to a receiver during the first half of an NCAA college football game against the Tennessee Martin Saturday, Oct. 22, 2022, in Knoxville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Wade Payne)

Birthday week

Morning fellow preteens. Yep, 12th year starts with a throwback. 

Early Which Way Wednesday question, which throwback jerseys are the best? The powder blue Chargers are a front runner. I personally love, love, LOVE the Falcons unis that are based in red rather than black. The Titans should wear the old-school Oilers jerseys every now and again. Thoughts?

The first 5-at-10 in our archives was from 12 years ago today, which was a Tuesday. It’s here. How old will it make you feel? Well, we offered fantasy advice about picking up rookie receiver Dez Bryant — seriously — and it included an item on Tony Romo — the injured Dallas QB not the ace CBS NFL color commentator. 

Side question: Did you see the news that this will be Jim Nantz’s last NCAA tournament? He told the New York Post that he’s hanging up his tie after one more Madness-filled March. Here’s betting that they will have to drag the mic from his cold dead fingers at Augusta National.

No comments. And very short. I like our current model better — plenty of comments, not anything resembling very short.

Thanks again for all the support folks, and when we get the link to sign up for the “Plays of the Day” afternoon email newsletter, we will pass that along.

Speaking of gambling, I will be on a VegasInsider podcast later this week with my good buddy Brian Edwards. I feel certain that my preseason suggestion of taking the 60-to-1 shot on Hendon Hooker winning the Heisman will come up. 

That’s the good news. The bad? I’m pretty sure my high belief on Auburn’s underachieving offensive and defensive lines will also be mentioned.

Speaking of QBs

So I am higher on Hendon Hooker than most of the other folks who fancy themselves draft experts.

Am I a draft expert? Not sure. I am a draft aficionado for sure. (That means I’m a big fan of the draft, Spy. Some would even say I love the draft. You may know this.)

I believe the folks at Walter Camp Football do as good as anyone with their draft projections. They are updated weekly, and the latest one has Hendon Hooker going early in round two of the 2023 draft to Seattle. 

In their projection, Hooker is the fifth QB selected, with CJ Stroud, Bryce Young and Will Levis going 1-2-3 overall and K.J. Jefferson going to Tennessee late in round one.

NFLdraftbuzz.com has the same top three — although not in that order, with Stroud averaged from scouts’ votes as the second-best prospect in the class, Young the fifth and Levis the 22nd overall prospect for 2023.  

But position matters, and there will be several teams with QB needs come April including Houston, Carolina, Detroit and possibly Atlanta, Tampa Bay and even New Orleans..

NFLdraftbuzz lists Hooker as the sixth-ranked QB, behind the above three and Stanford’s Tanner McKee and Clemson’s “Wheel of Fortune” nightmare DJ Uiagalelei.

With that, let’s critique all five of those dudes, starting with Hooker.

If you think he’s a system dude, that makes sense. Josh Heupel’s offense is humming along and Hooker’s skill set is perfect for it. (Side question: Anyone in Blacksburg, Virginia, right now wondering, "Uh, why were our coaches not using Hendon Hooker more effectively?" considering he transferred from Virginia Tech with little to no fanfare?)

And system QBs have a long history of busting or underperforming through the years, whether it was the Air Raid stuff under Mumme and Leach, Spurrier’s high-octane Fun ’n’ Gun or even the Houston gunslingers in the early 1990s.

One counter to that, though, is the NFL is more open to these college-like schemes than ever. Not to be too Debbie Downer on the Big Orange love fest of this fall, but if you are, say, Carolina, and you need a coach and a QB, and if you get pick three, and the only fault you can find in Hooker’s dazzling performance to date in Knoxville is “He’s a system guy,” then would you break the bank and bring the system along with the QB? Discuss.

As for the others, CJ Stroud is a bona fide dude who is experienced and poised and should be the No. 1 overall. He has a ceiling as high as any QB in this class and a floor that likely is higher than anyone else’s too.

I think Bryce Young is too slight to work on the next level to be honest. How he managed to keep Alabama in the game against UT earlier this month was amazing. (Side note: Even writing that sentence about how a superhuman QB performance allowed Alabama to manage to ‘stay’ in the game with anyone feels surreal.)

Don’t know much about Tanner McKee to be honest, but who was the last first-round QB of a power-five school that did not make a bowl game to have NFL success? If you are a first-round QB, you should be worth six wins almost by yourself in college football, folks. And Stanford managed, what, 15 points to beat a woeful Arizona State by a point last week? Yeah, no thanks.

As for the Clemson QB, he gets major props for sticking it out as the Tigers faithful called for his scalp in 2021. Still, from what I’ve seen of him, ranking him ahead of Hooker is laughable.

As for Chas’ man-crush on Will Levis, I personally do not understand the avalanche of praise for the Kentucky QB. He is a fine player, and I am assuredly in the minority since he is universally ranked no worse than three in every draft ranking I’ve seen.

But if I am spending that much draft capital on a QB — a top-five pick is pricey and will likely be needed to get Stroud, Young or Levis — I want a guy with a franchise-changing ceiling.

Hooker has that, and he throws as good a deep ball as anyone in recent memory in college football.

Levis’ accuracy needs work — a criticism shared by a lot of folks — and he has thrown 20 interceptions in 408 college attempts.

In Heupel’s offense, maybe the progression of first read, second read run has helped Hooker in terms of accuracy and ball security, and again, UT’s system is much more QB friendly than what Levis is driving.

But Hooker’s numbers — he’s completing 71% of his throws and has 11 picks in 540 college attempts — are staggering.

And in terms of ceiling, with Hooker, he could be Josh Allen. With Levis, and maybe I am short-selling him, but I see a more athletic Derek Carr.


Say what?

OK, that got wordy. Let’s move quickly through the final portions.

This story floored me. 

Bryce Harper has a chance to join a very exclusive list if his Phillies can win the World Series. And considering his torrid postseason — hitting better than .400, five homers, 11 RBIs and an OPS north of 1.300 in 11 games — these are his Phillies.

But according to this story, Harper has a chance to become the first MLB player ever to be drafted No. 1 overall, win rookie of the year, win an MVP and win the World Series. 

In fact, it’s happened just 14 times across all the major sports in North America, including the WNBA, MSL and NWSL.

Five NBA players — Shaq, Tim Duncan, LeBron, David Robinson and Kareem — have done it. 

I was surprised to see no NFL player has ever completed it either. 

This and that

— Clarification: If you are thinking Chipper Jones did the rare feat Bryce Harper is trying to complete, remember that Chipper did not win rookie of the year because he got jobbed by the voters, who went with Hideo Nomo.

— If there is such a thing as a bad hole-in-one, then this is the worst hole-in-one ever. An Arkansas golfer in a charity tournament made a one on 10 and the tournament promised that any ace on that hole would win an F-150. Well, the dealership was not on board and now the lawyers are involved. This one may get ugly. Fore-sure. (See what I did there, Spy?)                  

— Do you know what "swatting" is? I didn’t until I saw that Marjorie Taylor Greene’s house in Rome, Georgia, has been "swatted" six times. Swatting is calling law enforcement and reporting a very serious crime has occurred or is currently happening so the authorities deploy the SWAT team and crisis personnel. Hey, MGT is cracked. We all get that. But elected officials’ families and homes should be out of bounds, no? 

— So there’s now a hubbub about a female airline passenger who refused to give up her first-class seat because a family wanted to sit together. More here, but I side with the lady who kept her first-class seat, which comes with a sizable upcharge if memory serves. And if you did not order your tickets early enough so you could sit with your family — even split up — that’s a you issue, no? 

The world’s dirtiest man has died. No he was not from Nantucket. Apparently he went decades without bathing — he went almost 60 years without taking a bath because he was afraid it would make him sick. So a few months ago, folks in his village in Iran convinced him to take a shower. And, he got ill and died Sunday. He was 94. Dude had a theory, but everyone else just (sham)poo-pooed it apparently. 

— So the White House is making secret deals with the Saudi folks on oil. Not that surprising, I suppose and probably has happened for years and under various administrations. But why is everyone so mad when golfers buddy up with the Saudis and Biden (or whomever) is swapping knuckles and making secret pacts? 

— Lots of intriguing headlines about silliness today. Here’s “The View” — a bastion of bunk in my mind — having to go to an emergency commercial because someone in the audience cussed out guest Ted Cruz. Again, Cruz is a goof, but dude is assuredly playing a road game with “The View” crew but that was not enough for said foul-mouthed barrage of Cruz missiles. 

— So the priciest home sold in Chattanooga happened recently, with a Tiftonia palace on the Tennessee River going for $8.7 million. Dang it, my $8.5 million bid must have fallen just short. 

— You know the rules. Here’s Paschall on the bevy of UT wideouts making plays in Cedric Tillman’s absence.

Today’s questions

We got a couple of Which Ways above, so start there.

We’ll continue with this one: Which quarterback would you rather your NFL draft, Hendon Hooker or Will Levis?

Which game will be more fun this weekend, Kentucky at UT or THE Ohio State at Penn State?

As for today, Oct. 26, let’s review.

“The Terminator” was released on this day in 1984. One of the great all-time action movies and it still holds up surprisingly well.

Hillary Clinton is 75 today. 

Pat Sajak is 76. Cary Elwes is 60. 

The actual shootout at the OK Corral happened on this day in 1881. Take that Clanton boys.

Rushmore of ‘OK’ and be creative.