Back on March 4th, Tennessee’s coaching staff extended a scholarship offer to quarterback Jalen Kitna, the son of former NFL starting quarterback Jon Kitna. Over this past weekend, the younger Kitna made his first trip over to Knoxville to attend a camp on UT’s campus. And he was blown away by the visit.
“I’ve talked with some people that have been to Tennessee and that have actually gone there before, and they’ve only had good things to say about it,” Kitna told me in a recent interview. “So going into it, I kinda had these high hopes for it. Really, I think that it was everything I dreamt it was going to be.
“That place is amazing. The campus and the college itself is just awesome. It looks like a thriving place.”
The 6-foot-3, 170-pound pro-style quarterback is part of the 2021 recruiting cycle. He currently isn’t rated by recruiting sites, but he already holds offers from Tennessee, Colorado, and Boston College. He’s also already visited Texas A&M and is getting interest from a plethora of programs.
The Vols offered Kitna months ago, but this past weekend was the first time the young signal caller really got to engage with UT’s coaches.
“I had spoken with (Tennessee’s coaches) over the phone. Coach (Chris) Weinke came out to spring ball once to watch me throw. But besides that, we hadn’t really had many conversations,” Kitna stated. “That was the first time we really got to have some conversation, and I got some coaching and some time together. I thought that was really important.”
Tennessee quarterbacks coach Chris Weinke and offensive coordinator Jim Chaney were the two coaches who had the most contact with Kitna on his visit and during UT’s camp. And according to Kitna, he was given the red carpet treatment by the Vols’ coaching staff.
“The coaches made time out for me to evaluate me and made sure I was getting coached right. Every rep, they were there,” Kitna explained. “I feel like they made me their priority there even if they had other people there as well. It felt like they did a good job of paying attention to everybody too.
“Going to the camp and getting coached by (Chris) Weinke and Coach Chaney, I really agree with everything they’re saying and really enjoyed that experience with them and getting to know them as well. I really enjoyed it. I think they’re great guys. They’re trying to build that pro-style offense, which is what I played in, and coming from my dad, it’s been what I’ve grown up under.”
While at the camp, Kitna said he and Tennessee’s coaches worked on his footwork, learning different routes, and really tried to refine some of the details of his work.
Right now, the young quarterback hasn’t visited a ton of schools just yet, but that’s changing soon. Kitna said that his recruitment is “definitely picking up” right now, and that’s likely only going to continue.
Last season, Kitna played for Brophy College Prep over in Phoenix, Arizona. But he recently transferred to Frisco, Texas and will play for Reedy High School this season. The reason for the move? His dad was hired to be the quarterbacks coach for the Dallas Cowboys, so his entire family had to move over to Texas.
As a starter at Brophy College Prep as a sophomore, Kitna completed 53.5 percent of his 241 pass attempts for 1,474 yards, 16 touchdowns, and 17 interceptions according to MaxPreps. He also ran for three scores.
Over in Reedy, the younger Kitna is likely to get even more exposure than he was already receiving in Arizona. In fact, this spring has already been very busy for Kitna, and the coming summer months are going to be even more hectic.
After he visited Tennessee, Kitna made a trip over to Baylor. He also has plans to make it to Colorado, Texas A&M, Vanderbilt, Arkansas, Boston College, and Stanford this summer, and he’s going to try to make it out to Purdue as well.
Through all these visits, Kitna is trying to figure out which program is the right fit for him. He’s looking for a number of things to help make that decision, and Tennessee really stood out to him in one major aspect.
“First thing I’m looking for is a pro-style offense,” Kitna explained. “I’m really comfortable being under center and in the (shotgun). My ultimate goal is to be an NFL quarterback, and I feel like that’s the most preparation I can get. That’s kinda what I’ve been raised under. I’m also looking for a place that’s, first of all, just going to give me a chance. I don’t want to go to a place where they have their heart set on somebody or any preconceived knowledge. I just want to go somewhere I can compete. I want a place that makes me feel at home. I want a place I can really enjoy with the rest of my college experience.
“That’s why Tennessee really interests me. The tradition they have there and the culture they have is really awesome.”
Jalen Kitna has a busy summer ahead of him, and his recruitment process is really only starting to heat up. But no matter where he goes or what he experiences, the Vols have left an indelible mark on him.
“I will definitely not forget Tennessee. That place is pretty special.”