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Former Virginia Tech quarterback Hendon Hooker commits to Tennessee

Former Virginia Tech quarterback Hendon Hooker commits to Tennessee

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Virginia Tech at Louisville

Virginia Tech quarterback Hendon Hooker (right) runs the ball against Louisville during a game on Oct. 31.

BLACKSBURG—Former Virginia Tech quarterback Hendon Hooker has verbally committed to Tennessee.

Hooker, who entered the transfer portal the day after the Hokies opted out of playing in a bowl game on Dec. 17, will join a Tennessee team with a wide-open quarterback situation.

Tennessee’s two most experienced quarterbacks—Jarrett Guarantano and J.T. Shrout—entered the transfer portal within days of each other in December. Hooker will likely compete with Harrison Bailey, a four-star signee from the 2020 class out of Georgia, and recently signed Kaidon Salter.

Salter a four-star signee out of Cedar Hill who was the No. 6 ranked dual-threat quarterback in the 2021 class, according to 247Sports.com composite rankings.

There are some questions surrounding Tennessee coach Jeremy Pruitt and his staff amid an internal investigation into recruiting violations.

According to ESPN, the school has paused extending the contracts of assistant coaches and filling of multiple vacancies on the staff as attorneys looking to the possibility that players received improper benefits.

Tennessee lost seven of its last eight games this season to finish 3-7. Pruitt is now 16-19 (10-16 SEC) in three seasons with the program.

Hooker held a scholarship offer from Tennessee coming out of Dudley High School (Greensboro, N.C.) as a four-star recruit back in 2017. The quarterback threw for 2,894 yards for Virginia Tech with 22 touchdowns and seven interceptions. He also ran for 1,033 yards (4.2 yards per carry) and 15 touchdowns.

He helped turn Tech’s 2019 season around when he replaced Ryan Willis as the starting quarterback after a 2-2 start. Hooker won six straight including a dramatic 42-35 win in his starting debut against Miami.

The 2020 season was more of a mixed bag for Hooker.

He had a medical scare in September that kept him out of the lineup until the third week of the season. He regained the starting job and put up decent numbers—he threw for 1,339 yards this season (65.3%) with nine touchdowns and had 620 rushing yards—but the offenses struggled in the red zone and on third-down situations as they dropped three straight games in November.

Hooker’s season ended on what the coaching staff described was an “odd” note when he suffered muscle spasms in the second half of a 45-10 loss to Clemson on Dec. 5. He fumbled a clean snap on the opening drive and was replaced by Braxton Burmeister. Hooker came back into the game when Burmeister was injured in the second half and fumbled a second snap that was returned for a touchdown.

He couldn’t stop shaking on the sideline after the second turnover and the trainers took him back to the locker room.

Hooker’s departure leaves Tech with three scholarship quarterbacks—Burmeister, Knox Kadum and 2021 signee Tahj Bullock—going into 2021. Former Tech quarterback Quincy Patterson also entered the transfer portal in 2020 and has since signed with North Dakota State.

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