KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) —Tennessee quarterback Hendon Hooker’s emergence has helped the Vols be more than just a competitive football team this season. The grad transfer has helped Tennessee to 299 points so far this season, the most the Vols have scored through eight games since 1995.

Hooker’s passing rating is near 180, which is the best in the SEC, even above Heisman hopefuls Matt Corral (Ole Miss QB) and Bryce Young (Alabama QB). Not only is he leading the SEC in QBR, but he’s first in yards per play at 9.51, third in completion percentage with 68.68%, fourth in longest play completed at 75, fourth in passing touchdowns with 17, and tied for sixth with interceptions thrown with 2.

After Joe Milton was named the starter at the beginning of the season, it would be nearly impossible for anyone to predict the level of play Hooker has provided thus far after taking the reigns late in the Pitt game.

Vols tight end Jacob Warren says that Hooker’s confidence is oozing and Hooker mentioned last week that he’s been working on his leadership. It’s showing up on the field and in his numbers as Hooker has career highs in passing yards and passing touchdowns.

“Consistency in the way that he’s played throughout the course of the season, his ability to get better every single week, his efficiency at the quarterback position. For the most part, he’s taken great care of the football, been accurate on short, intermediate, and deep throws, his ability to use his feet. All those factors compile and give him an opportunity to have an opportunity at some point to have a career at the next level, too,” coach Josh Heupel said on his starting quarterback.

Wide receiver Javonta Payton mentioned that the reps he and Hooker have been getting together are translating into results on the field. The Vols will need Hooker to continue his above-par play as they take on the No. 18 ranked Kentucky Wildcats on Saturday.