One of the biggest concerns about college athletes and NIL deals was essentially deemed a non-issue by Tennessee Vols quarterback Hendon Hooker on Thursday during his appearance at SEC Media Days in Atlanta.

It’s been suggested countless times that NIL deals could cause major issues in the locker room. Specifically, reporters and talking heads have opined that current players on a roster could grow perturbed over recruits/signees receiving mega NIL deals.

Hooker, however, doesn’t see that as an issue.

“If I was coming (out of high school), I’d want to get paid too,” said Hooker. “There’s some guys that are special out here that have earned that. At the end of the day, they’ve put in the same work that we’ve put in. Why shouldn’t they be rewarded as well?”

Hooker made sure to add that it’s important for players to put in the work once they get paid.

“When you get there (to college), you have to show up,” explained Hooker. “I’d say take advantage of that, young guys. And continue to work hard.”

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Tennessee offensive lineman Jerome Carvin (75) blocks Purdue defensive tackle Lawrence Johnson (90) from Tennessee quarterback Hendon Hooker (5) during the second quarter of the Music City Bowl, Thursday, Dec. 30, 2021, at Nissan Stadium in Nashville.
Cfb Music City Bowl Purdue Vs Tennessee

Hooker also detailed an unintended benefit of NIL deals — they prepare student-athletes for real-life business situations.

“It’s a great thing for us to be able to go out and learn things that we’re interested in, not just football,” said Hooker. “Putting us in a businessman’s mindset early on in life. I think it’s a cool thing that we get to experience it.”

Hooker just returned from a trip to New York City (along with teammate Cedric Tillman) where he was able to visit Barstool Sports, NASDAQ (Hooker revealed he does some day trading), and Topps Trading Cards. There’s no doubt that the experience of going to New York and meeting with those companies will set up Hooker and Tillman for even more success in life after football. It’s an invaluable experience that goes beyond the cash they’re making from NIL deals.

I know there are a lot of people who only think about NIL deals in conjunction with recruiting. And while that’s certainly a major part of NIL, it goes way beyond just recruiting. There are a lot of legitimate NIL opportunities out there and Hooker, who is also a children’s book author, is a great example of that.

Featured image via Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports