Hendon Hooker falls short of Heisman Trophy

The Vols quarterback’s outstanding season ended early after he tore his ACL during the game against South Carolina
The Vols quarterback’s outstanding season ended early after he tore his ACL during the game against South Carolina
Published: Dec. 5, 2022 at 5:50 PM CST|Updated: Dec. 5, 2022 at 10:21 PM CST
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - Vols quarterback Hendon Hooker was not invited to New York as a Heisman Trophy finalist.

The finalists are:

  • Stetson Bennett -QB Georgia
  • Max Duggan-QB TCU
  • CJ Stroud -QB Ohio State
  • Caleb Williams-QB USC

Hooker had an incredible season, finishing with 3,135 yards passing and 27 touchdown passes against just two interceptions. However, his season ended early after he suffered a torn ACL during the loss against South Carolina.

Coach Josh Heupel spoke with the media after the loss and said he hates how Hooker’s career ended at Tennessee, especially because of how much he’s poured himself into the program and the growth he’s made over the last two seasons.

“He represents everything good about college football,” said Heupel. “A young man that’s learned how to be a man, that does it the right way, that cares about his teammates. That’s grown outside of the game, that’s grown inside of the game. That’s put him to have a great future in the game, too. Just hate that we don’t get the chance to go compete with him again and that he doesn’t have that opportunity.”

In a press conference on Sunday, Heupel spoke about Hooker’s eligibility for the Heisman. “Hendon deserves to be at that ceremony. He’s one of the best players in college football. The growth of our program is a direct correlation to his play. He’s a fierce competitor and I hope he has that opportunity,” he said.

On top of his superb play on the field, Hooker also signed two NIL deals with French’s Mustard and Mercedes-Benz of Knoxville.

Hooker has been a role model to many young athletes and has used his platform to spread his faith, co-authoring a children’s book with his brother Alston titled, “The ABCs of Scripture for Athletes.”

“One thing I wanna do is be a positive light in my community and in people’s lives,” Hooker said after receiving a special note from a young Vol fan.

Hooker is on track to earn his master’s degree in agricultural leadership after securing his bachelor’s degree in public relations from Virginia Tech prior to coming to Tennessee.

This is the fourth year in a row there have been four Heisman finalists. The Heisman Trophy Trust announced in 2021 it will now officially invite four finalists annually to New York City for the Heisman Trophy weekend. The Heisman Trophy Trust began officially inviting finalists to New York City in 1982.

Bennett, a senior quarterback, has completed 269 of 395 passes (68.1%) for 3,425 yards and 20 touchdowns with just six interceptions while rushing for another 184 yards and seven touchdowns. He has led Georgia to a perfect 13-0 regular season and the 2022 SEC title as well as the top seed in the 2022 College Football Playoff. Bennett, who led the Bulldogs to the 2021 national title and has quarterbacked them to 15 straight wins, threw for over 300 yards four times this year and completed at least 70.0% of his passes in a game five times. His 68.1 completion percentage is ranked 13th nationally and his 8.7 yards per attempt are 14th best.

Duggan, a senior quarterback with 41 career starts at TCU, completed 239 of 368 passes (64.9%) for 3,321 yards and 30 touchdowns with just four interceptions. He also rushed for 404 yards and another six scores, leading the Horned Frogs to a 12-1 season and their first-ever berth in the College Football Playoff. Duggan is tied for seventh nationally in yards per attempt (9.0), ninth in quarterback rating (165.48), tied for ninth in points responsible for (2018) and 12th in touchdown passes (30). His 30 TD passes are the third-most in school history. Duggan passed for over 300 yards five times and had three or more TD passes in a game seven times. He ran for over 100 yards twice in a game, including for 116 yards and two scores against Oklahoma and for 110 yards and a touchdown in the Big 12 championship game against Kansas State.

Stroud, a redshirt sophomore quarterback and second-year starter, completed 235 of 355 passes for 3,340 yards (66.2%) with 37 touchdowns and just six interceptions while leading the Buckeyes to an 11-1 record and a spot in the College Football Playoff. He leads the nation in yards per play (8.75) and quarterback rating (176.25), his 37 TDs are tied for first nationally while his 9.4 yards per attempt are third-best nationally. The Buckeye offense Stroud leads is No. 2 nationally in scoring (44.5). He passed for over 300 yards five times and tossed five or more touchdowns in a game four times, including a season-best six at Michigan State. He is the first quarterback in Big Ten history to have back-to-back 30-touchdown seasons.

Willams, a sophomore quarterback and a first-year USC starter after transferring from Oklahoma, has thrown for 4,075 yards on 296 of 448 passing (66.1%) with a national co-leading 37 touchdown passes against just four interceptions. His passing yards is fourth-most nationally, his quarterback rating (167.94) is fifth-best and his passing yards per game (313.5) is sixth-best. Williams, who led USC to an 11-2 season after the Trojans went 4-8 in 2021, is third nationally in total offense with 4,447 yards with a total that broke USC’s school record (4,225, 2017). He has also rushed for 372 yards (the most at USC in at least 70 years) on 109 carries with a team-best 10 TDs. Williams’ 47 total touchdowns lead the country, as do his 282 points responsible for while his total touchdowns are a school record. He threw for over 300 yards seven times, including twice over 400 yards.