Former Tennessee QB Hendon Hooker's Goal Of Making Senior Bowl Comes True, Recovery Has Been 'Flawless'

MOBILE - There's only so much former Tennessee quarterback Hendon Hooker can do while at the Senior Bowl. But, this hasn't stopped him from trying to elevate his draft stock.

Coming off a torn ACL, suffered November 19th against South Carolina, Hooker is steadfast in his recovery, even while he's meeting with NFL teams in Mobile. Wearing a massive brace on his knee, Hooker emerged from the tunnel during the first Senior Bowl practice with a smile on his face.

Hendon had surgery to repair his ACL just over six weeks ago in Los Angeles

If you thought that Hendon Hooker attending the Senior Bowl was something that just came up in the last few months, you'd be sorely mistaken. Going back to his first year at Tennessee, him and his former roommate Velus Jones Jr. had a plan to make it down to Mobile.

“I was roommates with Velus Jones Jr.,we put up the goals we wanted on the front door, this was part of the plan to be here," Hooker recalled.

Respecting The Senior Bowl, Not Wasting An Opportunity

Taking a few minutes to sign autographs, it's clear that Hooker is taking every advantage of being in town, even if he can't play. The three Tennessee fans huddled in the corner of Whitney Hancock Stadium were waiting to see their team's quarterback. If it wasn't for Hendon Hooker, the 11-2 season doesn't happen, and Tennessee isn't making a splash on the national level.

The postseason bowl game attended by every NFL team, usually doesn't invite players with an injury. But seeing Hooker become the most talked about player in college football this season goes a long way, especially at an event if this magnitude.

So, it's not surprising that Hooker is making the most out of the opportunity.

“It’s just great to be out here and be able to talk ball, while being around so many great players, with some of my teammates competing as well. Getting in the film room with the quarterbacks and being able to talk their )NFL) language, it’s been a blast to be out here.”

Hendon Hooker's Rehab From Knee Surgery Is Going Great

Speaking with Hooker following practice, the NFL prospect mentioned that his recovery is coming along well, with hopes of being able to run by March. This would be a fantastic outcome for the former Vol, which he feels truly blessed about.

“I’ll start doing more explosive things starting here in two weeks, my eight week mark. Being able to workout without my brace, putting 100% weight on my left leg and get back to my running motion with some resistance," Hooker discussed after practice.

If you paid attention to college football this past season, you most likely saw some type of highlight of him, whether it be against Alabama or any other dramatic victory. It was the South Carolina game where his setback began.

A Surprise Visit From Tennessee's Josh Heupel

I don't know if Hooker expected the Tennessee coaching staff to visit him and his teammates in Mobile. It came off as a shock when he saw every Vols position coach show up on the field, but it was a welcomed sense of home for the former quarterback.

“Means a lot, to see a lot of our coaching staff out here, it was a pleasant surprise, seeing the whole coaching staff hanging out. I miss those guys in Knoxville," Hendon Hooker noted. To be able to do what we did this year, we set out with a goal, but fell short of our goal. We definitely played how we expected to play."

Speaking with his former head coach Josh Heupel, he called his recovery from a torn ACL flawless.

"He's on the way to getting healthy. Obviously, he was a major part of the success and the rebuild at Tennessee," Josh Heupel noted. "Right now, after surgery, the rehab has gone flawlessly. So, looking forward to him continuing that journey as we get closer to Pro Day, and I'll be able to see a little bit more from him."

The unfortunate injury has been taken in stride by the seasoned veteran. Sure, those first few weeks after the injury were tough, having to watch his team finish the season without him. But, for a young man like Hooker, staying patient during the process is key for his NFL future.

“Same way I was patient when I was trying to keep my leg up in the shower, couldn’t put any weight on it in the shower," Hendon discussed. "Just taking it day-by-day, getting better everyday and making sure I’m doing all my rehab in my room by myself, whenever I get a chance. “

A trip to Mobile without an opportunity to prove himself on the field, is tough, considering every other player is performing on the field. But, he's learning how to be a pro everyday he's around NFL personnel.

As we've seen from other players, some don't feel this week is beneficial, including Georgia QB Stetson Bennett. But for Hendon Hooker, this was all part of his plan, ever since he stepped on campus in Knoxville.

Written by
Trey Wallace is the host of The Trey Wallace Podcast that focuses on a mixture of sports, culture, entertainment along with his perspective on everything from College Football to the College World Series. Wallace has been covering college sports for 15 years, starting off while attending the University of South Alabama. He’s broken some of the biggest college stories including the Florida football “Credit Card Scandal” along with the firing of Jim McElwin and Kevin Sumlin. Wallace also broke one of the biggest stories in college football in 2020 around the NCAA investigation into recruiting violations against Tennessee football head coach Jeremy Pruitt. Wallace also appears on radio across seven different states breaking down that latest news in college sports.