Tennessee QB Hendon Hooker would be ‘ecstatic’ if drafted to develop under current starter

Detroit News

Mobile, Ala. — In his season-ending press conference, Detroit Lions general manager Brad Holmes said there was “a lot of merit” to the idea of drafting a quarterback that can develop behind Jared Goff.

On the first day of Senior Bowl practices Tuesday, University of Tennessee quarterback and former Heisman hopeful Hendon Hooker said a situation like that would be just fine with him.

“I’d be ecstatic,” Hooker said about the possibility of being drafted to develop under a current starter.

“It’s a blessing to be in this position that I’m in. Not a lot of people get to be in this position. So either way it goes, I’m gonna come in, be a sponge, soak up all the information that I can, learn, and when it’s my time to go on the field, I’m gonna take advantage of my opportunity.”

Hooker was in the process of leading Tennessee to its best season in two decades when he tore an ACL in the Vols’ 63-38 loss to South Carolina in late November. He was a Heisman hopeful and arguably the most electrifying player in college football, throwing for 3,135 yards with 27 touchdowns and just two interceptions.

While the injury has caused his draft stock to take a hit — he could realistically go anywhere between rounds 2 and 5 — there’s still plenty who are high on the four-year starter, who spent his first three college seasons at Virginia Tech before starting the last two at Tennessee. Hooker also said he’s been communicating with players who were hurt for their pre-draft process, which has helped him through the mental part of things.

Some were surprised by his decision to forego the draft and return to Tennessee last season, wary of him experiencing the exact type of injury that would get him in Week 12.

But Hooker?

“No,” he said, cutting off a reporter who suggested that he has regrets about not leaving. “I’m good with everything. Yes, sir.”

As far as what he’s doing at the Senior Bowl, given that he can’t participate in any football activities, Hooker said coming to the annual event has been a goal of his for a long time. He manifested the trip years ago with rookie Bears receiver and former teammate Velus Jones Jr., who participated in the game last year. He hasn’t let an injury dampen the fact he earned the right to go.

“We put up our goals that we wanted on our front door. This was part of the plan and I’m just blessed to be here,” Hooker said.

nbianchi@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @nolanbianchi

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