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Hendon Hooker promises to be 'a better version' of himself upon return from ACL injury

Chandler Vesselsby:Chandler Vessels01/31/23

ChandlerVessels

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Hendon Hooker is determined to come back improved from a torn ACL he suffered in November. The Tennessee quarterback and potential high-round NFL draft pick was at Tuesday’s Senior Bowl practice, where he offered an update on his recovery.

Hooker told reporters that he will be healthy for the start of NFL training camp in July and plans to begin running again in March. Not only will he be back, but he also sent a message to teams who may be considering drafting him.

“It will be a better version of Hendon Hooker, the best we’ve seen yet,” he told ESPN’s Pete Thamel.

Hooker spent the past two seasons with the Volunteers, throwing for a combined 58 touchdowns and just five interceptions in that span. He also rushed for 1,046 yards and 10 more scores. This past season, he got the Volunteers off to an 8-0 start and up to No. 2 in the AP poll, their highest ranking since 2001.

Hendon Hooker is currently the No. 5 quarterback prospect according to ESPN, and teams will likely be interested to see his progress in recovering from the ACL injury before taking a chance on him. He told Thamel he has been rehabbing in California and is slowly getting closer to normal.

“I’m doing really well, putting 100 percent weight on it,” Hooker said. “I’m able to do exercises without my brace. I’ll throw sitting down some. Nothing too crazy on my knee where I’m twisting and turning on it, just taking it slow and all the precautions.”

Hooker said he has been in contact with close to 20 NFL teams, updating them on his progress. He will not participate in Tennessee’s Pro Day on March 30, but plans to “stride it out” to show how far he has come.

“I feel great,” Hooker said. “I’m moving around. I’m excited to get back to my regular self. My cerebral side has elevated to a whole other level. I’m continuing to build that and my leadership skills and communication skills. I’ll have that chip on my shoulder whenever I get back.”

The 2023 NFL Draft begins on April 27 in Kansas City. Until then, Hooker will hope to continue working toward not just getting back to where he was, but showing off his improvement as well.