Tennessee is off to a 3-0 start in 2022, and that’s partially due to the quarterback play of Hendon Hooker.

Hooker transferred in from Virginia Tech ahead of the 2021 season and impressed, throwing for 2,945 yards, 31 touchdowns, and just 3 interceptions. He also totaled 5 touchdowns and 616 yards on the ground. Through 3 games this season, he’s picked up where he’s left off, recording 5 touchdowns and 0 picks while running for 2 more scores.

The Greensboro, N.C. native made the decision to leave Blacksburg after the firing of former Virginia Tech coach Justin Fuente, and never quite made a significant impact. That’s changed as he’s entrenched himself as the unquestioned starter for the Vols.

“Any time that I’m on the field, I want to be a vocal leader, as well as leading by example. Just persevering through tough times and knowing how to motivate my guys to push through,” he said in an interview with Jen Lada on Saturday’s College GameDay.

He described times when his career hadn’t gone as hoped, including in 2020 with Virginia Tech, when he tested positive for COVID-19. After further examination, he was found to possibly need heart surgery, but later testing found that all was OK.

“At the time, it’s hard to have faith when you hear everything you’ve worked for and dreamed of literally taken away from you,” he said. “That was one of the turning points for me on really concentrating on what I wanted to do for the rest of my life and what I wanted to do in the game of football.”

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Sports betting in Tennessee officially launched on November 1, 2020, and many of the largest sportsbooks are live and operating in the volunteer state. Tennessee is only one of a handful of SEC football states with legalized sports betting.