Hendon Hooker, Tennessee’s Heisman Trophy candidate quarterback, out for season with torn ACL

Hendon Hooker suffered a torn ACL in his left knee in Tennessee football’s loss to South Carolina on Saturday, Tennessee announced Sunday. The Vols quarterback will miss the remainder of the season, and his Tennessee career is over.

“Forever a Tennessee legend and the ultimate teammate, we know Hendon will come back stronger than ever as he embarks on a promising NFL career,” the Tennessee announcement said.

Hooker, Tennessee’s Heisman Trophy hopeful, went down with a non-contact leg injury in the fourth quarter of Tennessee’s 63-38 loss at South Carolina at Williams-Brice Stadium.

Hooker tumbled for a 1-yard loss and stayed down on the field with 11:28 to play. He was stringing out an option play when his left leg buckled when he planted. He went down without being touched by a defender.

Hooker walked off the field with assistance. He left for the locker room, limping and walking slowly, after being evaluated in the injury tent on the Tennessee sideline.

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“It was probably one of the worst things I have seen out there,” offensive lineman Jerome Carvin said. “Just to know how hard he works. Probably the hardest-working guy I have ever played with. It is so unfortunate for it to happen to a guy like that. If I know anything, I know he will bounce back from it for sure. He is a warrior. I know he will.”

The play was ruled a fumble after review as Hooker had dropped the ball as he went down. South Carolina took over with the ball at the UT 17-yard line while leading 49-31. The Gamecocks scored again to take a 56-31 lead. Joe Milton entered at quarterback on the following UT drive.

Hooker was 25-for-42 passing for 247 yards and three touchdowns. Cedric Tillman caught a 3-yard touchdown pass on a fourth-and-goal play. Bru McCoy snagged a 7-yard score on a deflected pass. And Hooker threw a dart to Princeton Fant for a 41-yard scoring strike.

The play was ruled a fumble after review as Hooker had dropped the ball as he went down. South Carolina took over with the ball at the UT 17-yard line while leading 49-31. The Gamecocks scored again to take a 56-31 lead. Joe Milton entered at quarterback on the following UT drive.

Hooker was 25-for-42 passing for 247 yards and three touchdowns. Joe Milton entered for Hooker. He will likely start for UT in its regular-season finale at Vanderbilt.

Hooker had completed 69.6% of his passes for 3,153 yards and 27 touchdowns with two interceptions.

Email him Mike Wilson at michael.wilson@knoxnews.com and follow him on Twitter @ByMikeWilson.