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Hendon Hooker returning to Tennessee in 2022

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Huge.

Syndication: The Knoxville News-Sentinel Saul Young/News Sentinel / USA TODAY NETWORK

Perhaps the biggest piece of news of the Tennessee offseason is here — quarterback Hendon Hooker has announced that he will return to Tennessee for one more season in Knoxville.

The senior was weighing his options on returning or declaring for the NFL Draft in a weak quarterback class, but has opted on returning for another season playing under Josh Heupel.

Hooker made the announcement on Sunday afternoon.

The veteran quarterback had a breakout season in his first try with Tennessee, ushering in a new era of offense. He initially lost the job to Joe Milton, but roared back to life in relief of Milton against Pittsburgh. Hooker never looked back, operating with efficiency to help lead Tennessee to a 7-5 record.

Hooker committed to Jeremy Pruitt’s staff last season before Pruitt was fired. He stuck with the Volunteers through the coaching change, embracing Heupel’s up-tempo, wide open style. He transferred in from Virginia Tech.

2021 was easily his best season as he ended up throwing over 2,500 yards. Hooker’s 26/3 TD/INT ratio was among the nation’s best, and his 561 rushing yards really added a different element to the offense as Tennessee struggled with injuries at the running back position.

With Hooker set to return in 2022, Tennessee is going to have some expectations to deal with. A third place finish in the SEC East in year one was impressive, where can they go next? Now with a veteran core in tact, Tennessee will have one of the top returning offenses in all of college football. The Volunteers finished 16th in total offense this season.

Heupel and company now have some very real momentum. They’ll look to finish off 2021 with a win in the Music City Bowl against Purdue, and then it’s full steam ahead on 2022.