Josh Heupel is not surprised with Hendon Hooker’s ability to grow within the offense, and be a catalyst for helping Tennessee have a great season.

But it’s Hooker’s demeanor that has helped him grow in the position.

“I think what’s striking about him is his maturity on and off the field and just the way he handles himself as a person,” Heupel said at his Monday press conference. “That factors into how he prepares and handles positives and negatives during the course of a given day, a practice, a game. The thing that’s striking to me and you don’t know it until you’re in those environments is just the competitive nature of him and I think you guys can see that in the way that he plays.”

Hooker will get a big challenge this week against Georgia, but he’s coming off a big game against Kentucky.

Hooker led Tennessee to a 45-42 win at No. 18 Kentucky as he accounted for 4 touchdowns and 357 yards of total offense. He averaged 11.52 yards per play. It was the Vols’ first ranked win on the road vs. a top 20 opponent since 2006, while the 45 points were Tennessee’s most vs. a ranked opponent on the road since 2006 (51 at No. 10 Georgia).

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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.