Hooker Named Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award Finalist

BALTIMORE, Md. – Becoming just the second finalist in program history for the award, Hendon Hooker was named a Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award finalist Tuesday afternoon.

Hooker joins Peyton Manning as the only finalists for the award from Tennessee and Manning went on to win the award in 1997 with 3,819 yards on 287-of-477 passing (60.2 percent) with 36 touchdowns and 11 interceptions.

Throughout the 2022 season, the Volunteer signal-caller has been fantastic, throwing for 2,888 yards and 24 touchdowns on 204-of-287 passing (71.1 percent) and only two interceptions. Hooker has also created big plays with his legs, racking up 405 rushing yards on 99 carries thus far, and has punched in five touchdowns.

His excellence has come in the toughest conference in collegiate football as the fifth-ranked Vols have faced five consecutive top-20 defenses in their last five games against FBS opponents. The savvy leader of the Big Orange has been excelled in that stretch, averaging 283.8 yards passing and tossing 13 touchdowns in those games.

Hooker shined when the lights were brightest on Rocky Top and Tennessee welcomed then-No. 3 Alabama to Neyland Stadium for The Third Saturday in October. He was emphatic, going 21-of-30 with five touchdowns and 385 passing yards. Even when the Vols trailed, his confidence never wavered, pushing the Big Orange down the field with poise to tie the game. With 15 seconds left, he moved the ball 45 yards with two passes to set up the game-winning field goal from Chase McGrath.

Off the field, Hooker has been a beacon in the community, embodying what it truly means to be a Tennessee Volunteer. He has brought positivity and energy to the Knoxville community and displays the qualities of perseverance and hard work every day in his practice habits.

Back in 2020, Hooker contracted COVID-19 and had to go to the hospital after a heart check revealed an abnormality, putting his football future in jeopardy. Since then, he has treated every day, every practice, every film session and every rep with the same voracity. His drive to be the best in all facets of life shows up on the tape and has provided a model for how to carry yourself for a generation to come.

“The winner of the Golden Arm Award is recognized not only for his athletic accomplishments, but also for his character, citizenship, scholastic achievement, leadership qualities, and athletic abilities,” says John Unitas, Jr., President of the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Educational Foundation, Inc.

The Golden Arm Award, presented annually to the top upperclassmen quarterback by the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Educational Foundation encapsulates all that is positive in college sports. The award acknowledges performance on the field for sure, but it goes beyond completion percentage and touchdown strikes. The award values character, citizenship, integrity and those who honor the game.

The other finalists for the award are Stetson Bennett IV from Georgia, Max Duggan from TCU, Bo Nix from Oregon and CJ Stroud from Ohio State.

The 2022 award winner will be presented the Golden Arm Award trophy by The Johnny Unitas Educational Foundation President, John Unitas, Jr., at the Golden Arm Award banquet and celebration at the Four Seasons Hotel in Baltimore, Maryland on Wednesday, Dec. 7.

-UT Athletics

Vols QB Hendon Hooker / Credit: UT Athletics

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