Don Callahan/Inside Carolina

UNC Recruit Game Eval: QB Hendon Hooker

Game evaluation of 2017 quarterback Hendon Hooker against Durham (N.C.) Hillside.

GREENSBORO, N.C. --- Powered by Connell “Beast Mode” Young’s 220 all-purpose yards, Dudley continued its undefeated season with a 34-13 victory over Durham Hillside on Friday.

Hendon Hooker, Dudley, 2017

North Carolina has yet to offer an in-state quarterback in the 2017 class. Hendon Hooker, Kingsley Ifedi, and Matt McKay are the prospects highest within that category. By carrying a four-star rating, Hooker is the early favorite to eventually receive said offer.

There’s little doubt about Hooker’s athleticism and mobility. But, the 6-foot-3, 185-pounder needs to validate his arm, particularly its consistency.

Although not his fault, Hooker didn’t quiet those concerns on Friday. Dudley, which is a football power primed for yet another championship run, is led by its customarily strong defense and running game. As such, Hooker is asked to “manage” the game.

Against Hillside, Hooker threw just ten passes (an eleventh, which was negated by a penalty, went for 12 yards – see clip 17). That sample size dwindles further when you consider that six of those tosses were intended for targets within five yards of the line-of-scrimmage, including three thrown to a ‘back running a swing pattern. 

Hooker completed six – or 60-percent – of his passes (64-percent if you count the attempt erased by penalty). Two of his incompletions were “drops” by the receiver, while just one was broken up by a defender (an ill-advised toss into a crowd on a RB screen). 

Through the air, Hooker accumulated 109 yards. Most of that came on a 66-yard pass on a post pattern for his lone touchdown toss (clip 12). On the aforementioned play, the receiver slowed down to make the grab and then fought two defenders for the final ten yards.

Hooker rushed for 103 yards on nine attempts – good for an 11.4 average. While those numbers are impressive, they could have been even better if a holding penalty didn’t wipe out a 50-plus-yard gain on an amazing escape attempt (clip 13).

Speaking of which, Hooker’s “escapability” might be his greatest asset. Although most of his rushes came on designed QB runs or read-options (clip 3), Hooker was like Houdini in the pocket constantly shaking off sack attempts (clips 2, 14, & 16). He was dropped behind the line just once on Friday.

Generally speaking, as a ball carrier, Hooker is slippery thanks to his body control and is deceptively fast because of his long stride.

Others

Two of Dudley’s top three tacklers on Friday were a pair of 2017 linebackers which UNC has on its radar: Nigel Peele and Patrick Connor. Although Peele had the better night (11 tackles, including three for a loss), Connor is more versatile (he lined up both inside the box and outside over a slot receiver) and has a nice burst. Due to their build (approximately 5-foot-11 and 215 pounds), both are likely inside guys on the collegiate level.

Jamal Currie-Elliott, a 2018 running back from Hillside who was mentioned in last week’s game eval, was a nonfactor on Friday. Unlike the week prior against Southern Durham, he almost exclusively lined up at receiver, mostly in the slot, and only handled the ball a few times.


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