Hendon Hooker’s tenacity leads the Tennessee football revival as the family watches with pride

Leon Hooker would have loved this week. He didn’t take spit from anyone. So, if someone wants to vanish with their grandson, Tennessee Quarterback Hendon Hooker, there will be a craft battle brewing this week from LSU Game.

Leon was probably 5 feet 9 feet tall and 160 pounds. Making small furniture frames North Carolina A town where people sometimes grew their own food. But watch out for the Little League matches. He will face the rulers.

Once upon a time, when his son did not play the opening midfielder of the season North Carolina A&TLeon told him to go home and pack his things. They were leaving.

“My mom took it out of him,” said Alan Hooker, Leon’s son and Hendon’s father.

“He was looking for confrontations. If he thought it was an injustice, he would deal with it.”

That’s why it’s such a shame that there is a missing key witness to what’s happening in Tennessee this fall. Lyon was a very proud, fighter and loving midfielder who leads the No. 1 offensive in the country. He died two years ago at the age of 78 after witnessing, as it turns out, had enough.

“He saw Hendon playing [before he died], said Alan. He was telling the world how much better Hendon was than me. did not leave. He was constantly reminding me, ‘You can’t make this boy throw up. You can’t do that. “

Grandpa saw early on what the rest of the world now realizes: Hendon Hooker, 24 in his sixth year of eligibility, is a living example of perseverance, hard work, and…crying. There was a lot of crying before Hendon got to this point.

Before we go there, let’s stay. The Virginia Tech The move comes from the best game of his career: 349 passing yards, 112 dashing yards and three total touchdowns against Florida. Farewell and Tennessee week had allowed him to soak in adulation before the LSU meeting. His first 4-0 start for Tennessee since 2016 put him outside of that quick turnaround under second-year coach Josh Hubble.

Number 8 suddenly looks like Tennessee Georgia In the eastern SEC. The midfielder is definitely a legitimate candidate for the Heisman Cup around mid-season. But in the SEC brimming with plenty of QB talent this season, only Hooker can say he’s leading the biggest offensive in the country — and that means just about everything.

Volunteers are hot again. Nieland Stadium has been sold. There is a hint of the good old days in the air on the banks of the Tennessee River.

Hooker got there because there was a lot he didn’t know. Little did he know he would catch COVID-19 two years ago, which essentially derailed his career at Virginia Tech. Little did he know that there would be panic related to a heart condition. Little did he know that 19 days after arriving on campus at UT, the coach who recruited him (Jeremy Pruitt) would be fired.

prove himself? I went there and did it. This included moving from Virginia Tech after starting 15 games over three seasons.

“I remember my parents visiting me at my apartment during that fall camp,” Hooker said of his early career as a freshman for the Hokies red jersey in 2019. (He didn’t win it).

“I cried my eyes out. My dad was a great fan who said, ‘Everyone has a different path.’ This will be yours. It’s just another incredible scene in your story. “It helped me persevere through difficult times.”

When COVID-19 hit him in 2020, the symptoms (loss of taste and runny nose) weren’t the hardest part for him personally. The pandemic has turned his routine upside down. In the off-season, Hooker was in the habit of getting to the facility at 5 a.m. and throwing in early with the equipment managers. During the upside-down COVID-19 period, health restrictions meant he couldn’t even make it to a hot tub after working out.

Then there was the pre-season heart problem. A procedure eventually reveals that there is nothing wrong, but Hooker and his father blame the medication from the procedure which remains in the quarterback’s system causing an embarrassing episode three months later.

Hooker was shown shivering and almost convulsing on the sideline during his December match against him Clemson. When asked about his player after the game, Virginia Tech coach Justin Fuente said the quarterback was “cool.” The game time temperature was 37 degrees. Hooker said the medication they used during his heart range had “reactivated”.

“You sit on the sidelines for a long time without movement,” Hooker recalls. “You are on top of the mountain [at Virginia Tech]. There is no heat on the sidelines. You are trying to do some jumping. Suddenly my body started shaking.

“My teeth chatter. I see my nails turning blue. What the hell is that? That’s crazy! To come back the next day.” [and see] My coach told the media that I was just getting cold and it hurt. I didn’t know what to say.”

In that game, Hooker completed a single pass, faltered in a quick shot and never played again at Virginia Tech. The Hokies went with Braxton Burmeister to finish the season. It became clear that he had no future there.

“I grew up in Blacksburg,” Hooker said figuratively. “A lot of my friends came from home because I was already there. I tried to handle it professionally. … I jumped in [transfer] Gate two days later. I remember coming to tell Coach Fuente about it. It brought tears to my eyes because I really enjoyed being there.”

Any hostility around the transfer was removed from Hooker’s corner. Called for comment via an “old news” medium, Fuente said. Alan told CBS Sports that his son ended up texting his old coach last year to wish him a happy birthday.

“No hard feelings there. Coach Fuente replied, ‘Hey Hendon, you’ve had a great year.’ I enjoyed watching you,” Alan said.

A month after moving to Knoxville, Tennessee, Hendon was studying a book that could become obsolete in as little as three weeks. Pruitt left in disgrace, the center of an ongoing NCAA investigation into bringing prospects during the COVID-19 death period. The NCAA said Pruitt and his wife used money from their own pockets on recruits.

Hawkers felt unsettled. When they asked, “Do we need to look elsewhere?” Tennessee quarterback coach Chris Winky urged them to stay put. Hebel added that spring MichiganJoe Melton from Transfer Gate.

Hendon fought another battle to get the work started in his hands. Perhaps this was the moment when Grandpa Leon’s stubbornness began. This will be where he takes his stand.

Did he tell you about ‘The Last Dance’? ‘ asked Alan.

Well, no. It took some searching for an anecdote that only the family could tell. Turns out Hendon and his brother, Alston, set out to watch the documentary about the Chicago Bulls breed as a motivator. Michael Jordan has been known to motivate himself by exaggerating the smallest details. Half of the documentary is about Jordan’s perceptions of insults, accidents, and beef.

Now we see these issues being resolved on Saturday. Alston, like his father before him, is the quarterback for North Carolina A&T. Hendon goes into Saturday in a draw for the National Lead with the most touchdown passes without interception this season (11). Only Heath Schuller (18) has thrown more TD in back-to-back games in Tennessee than Hooker (16 and still counting).

Against Florida, Hooker scored the most assists against the Gators by a Vols quarterback since Peyton Manning in 1997. Unlike Manning, Hooker also earned a win over the Gators.

Milton started the first two games of the 2021 season before Hooker took over. Then Tennessee really turned to Hebel’s vision. In seven of the 11 games remaining, the Vols scored at least 45 points. Tennessee jumped on opponents hard and fast. In his career, Heupel leads all active coaches with an average of 12.79 points in the first quarter.

Follow Hooker where he left off at Virginia Tech. His decision is still unbelievable. His streak of 212 consecutive passes without an interception has already broken the school record by 46. Since coming to Tennessee, he has thrown 39 touchdowns for just three picks. His career ratio (6.1-1) is nearly three times the national average (2.2-1).

After finishing the 2021 season ranked third nationally in passing efficiency, Hooker is currently sixth in 2022. It’s a scorched earth kind of thing. Volumes average 559.3 yards per game. If he continues to average 48.5 points per game, that would be a school record.

Hooker describes Heupel as “America’s best coach”. Heubel says he’s never had a player who understands the “why” of all this. Judy, yes, but Heupel seems to be spreading that kind of magic wherever he goes.

It’s easy to forget that the 44-year-old has two Heisman Trophy nods on his resume. The runner-up was on the cup OklahomaQuarterback in 2000. Eight years later, he was the quarterback coach for Sam Bradford’s team the year Bradford won the Heisman title in the OU. as such MissouriOffensive coordinator in 2017, Heupel oversaw Drew Lock leading the country in landing passes (44) while setting SEC and Missouri records for one season.

Heupel has had a chip on his shoulder since Bob Stoops left it as the OU’s Combined Offensive Coordinator seven years ago. While at Mizzou, Heupel actually recruited Hooker.

“I always remember what Coach Hope saw inside me at the time,” Hooker said. “After a few matches he told me, ‘I saw the movie, you look good. “It was giving me insight into what they were running that week. I made them among the top five who graduated from high school.”

Virginia Tech was the choice because of the warm reception and vision for the future. Outside of Greensboro, North Carolina, North Carolina was hunting Hooker, Wake ForestAnd the South Carolina And the North Carolina. Then the Wolfpack offensive coordinator, Ilya Drinkowitz, was the first coach to contact Alan about his son.

Hooker visited Notre Dame And the Oregon, among other things. In 2016, he was in the stands when Virginia Tech and Tennessee – ironically – met at the Battle of Bristol. The game, which was held at Bristol Motor Speedway, saw the largest crowd ever watched a college football game, 156,990.

That night, Hooker convinced his friend Galen Holston to commit to Virginia Tech. Holston is a senior in a red jersey running back with hockey. Hendon has become a national story, and hasn’t seen much adulation since his early days in VT. Of course, there are grainy VHS tapes placed around Hooker’s house as a reminder of something bigger.

They showed that Alan became the Black College Football Player of the Year for 1986.

His son said, “There were posters all over Greensboro… that said, ‘Bitch for Heisman’.”

At the age of twenty-four for football, Hooker plays for more of himself. He and Alston have written a religious children’s book called The ABCs of Mathematics’ Bible. Fred Whitfield is watching. The COO of the Charlotte Hornets is a close friend of Jordan who was once his father’s agent. Alan grew up in Little Liberty, North Carolina. A local resident arrives at the mansion with the Los Angeles Dodgers. A distant cousin, Andy Hayden, lived three houses. Hayden was a player for the 1981 champions Clemson.

“My kids always advised, ‘Man, go hard,'” Alan said.

There are actually two Alan’s in the house. Hendon is Hooker’s middle name taken from his mother Wendy’s maiden name. This is a tribute to his grandfather to his mother. Alan is a blond dad who started warm-up photography for his son when he was a freshman at Virginia Tech.

“He won’t play,” said Alan. “We just went to score his warm-up. It was time for his game.”

Things are a lot different now. After his first season 36 years ago, Alan played in the East-West Shrine Bowl—an all-star game in college—and did well. After the match, a group of guys decided to hang out.

Alan recalls, “My dad came with his pickup truck, took all my clothes and said, ‘We’re leaving. We don’t hang out. You don’t talk to that girl.” He grabbed me by the ear and said: You don’t. You have dreams.

In his early twenties, Alan’s football dreams came to an end. He signed a free agent deal with the Dallas Cowboys and made it until August before he was cut short at training camp. Today, he’s recruiting for a local school district heavily involved in the lives of two boys who play the same job he used to.

But something is missing. Something proud, warrior and lover.

“He would be proud of Hindon,” Alan said of his father. “He was already walking around with his chest when [Hendon] He was at Virginia Tech. ”

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