On Saturday, four-star dual-threat quarterback Kaidon Salter trimmed down his list of teams from over two dozen offers to just 11 schools he plans on focusing his attention on moving forward. Tennessee was one of those schools, and the Vols have made a strong impression on Salter.
The 6-foot-1, 185-pound quarterback from Cedar Hill, Texas chose Tennessee, Auburn, Baylor, Michigan State, Kansas, Arkansas, Georgia Tech, Louisville, Utah, Ole Miss, and UCLA as his top 11, and I spoke with him about his recruitment process and his thoughts on the Vols.
So why did Salter choose the 11 schools he did?
“Most definitely the contact, the contact with the coaches, and the programs are really nice programs,” Salter said. “The staffs, the history behind those schools. Everything was great about them.”
Salter’s recruitment really took off after he completed his junior season in 2019. In his junior campaign, Salter completed 60.8 percent of his 245 pass attempts for 2,550 yards, 28 touchdowns, and just six interceptions while also running for 616 yards and 10 scores on 100 carries. He was named the District 7-6A MVP as he led Cedar Hill to the second round of the 6A D-II playoffs.
With that strong performance came a slew of offers.
Since late November of 2019, Salter has picked up over 20 offers, and the Vols were one of the earliest teams to extend an offer to him after his junior season. Tennessee was the first SEC school to offer Salter, giving him a scholarship offer on January 21st of this year. Since then, four other SEC programs have extended offers to Salter, and over a dozen Power Five teams have offered him.
Salter went from a middling three-star recruit to the No. 89 overall prospect and No. 4 dual-threat quarterback in the 247Sports rankings after his junior season.
After having just a handful of FBS offers heading into his junior season, Salter has his pick of where he’d like to go to college. He’s enjoyed that uptick in his recruitment, but he’s ready to focus on the schools that actually want him.
“It’s been real cool. Different coaches hit me up every day. I almost gotta see which ones are actually staying in contact and trying to build relationships,” Salter explained. “Some schools that I have offers from, coaches don’t hit me up anymore because they already got their commitment, so it’s like they don’t need you no more. Some schools that are taking two (quarterbacks) still hit me up. I’m just enjoying the process right now.”
Salter had several visits planned throughout the spring, but unfortunately for him and recruits across the country, March and April has turned into a no-visit period.
The outbreak of COVID-19 in the United States brought the sports world to a halt, and that included recruiting visits to college campuses and coaching visits to see recruits. But before the cancellation of visits, Salter got to see Tennessee.
The four-star quarterback went on a visiting spree after the February dead period came to a close, going to Ole Miss on March 1st and Arkansas on March 2nd before taking that following week to make trips all throughout the southeast. Florida State hosted him on March 9th, Auburn and Georgia Tech on March 10th, and South Carolina and Louisville on March 11th.
On March 12th, the last day visits were permitted before the shutdown, Salter was on Tennessee’s campus. Not only did he get to tour campus, but he was able to take in the Vols’ second (and seemingly final) day of spring practice.
“We did so much on Tennessee day,” Salter said. “I got there around eight o’clock and didn’t leave until probably five o’clock. We did a campus tour, we saw everything around the campus, and did stadium tours. They showed us all the academics, all the pictures.
“Everything about Tennessee, I love Tennessee. Watching them practice was great because I got to watch how the coaches practice with them.”
Not every school splits up the duties of their offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. Many schools will have the OC serve as the QB coach as well. But not at Tennessee, and Salter really likes that about the Vols.
“They have a quarterback coach and an offensive coordinator. The offensive coordinator watches the quarterbacks, but the quarterback coach, that’s good seeing the one-on-one time with the quarterback coach and the quarterbacks,” Salter explained. “I got to sit down and talk mostly to Coach Weinke, Coach Pruitt, and Coach Chaney. Those are the main three coaches I talked to. We had nice conversations, talking about school and things like that.
“Most likely, that school (Tennessee) will get an official visit.”
As for when that visit will happen, everything is up the air right now.
The COVID-19 outbreak and the cancellation of recruiting visits has put a wrench in Salter’s original plans. But he’s taking this opportunity to do some further research into the 11 schools on his list.
“It did push back my commitment time. I was going to commit sometime in the spring, but this pushed it back,” Salter said of the current pandemic. “I have time now to really research the schools and get more looks. I can research the schools and the coaching staffs and their backgrounds.”
Salter is using this downtime to his advantage, but the multi-sport athlete still has plenty on his table.
Not only is Salter a standout on the football field, but he competes in track at Cedar Hill as well. Though he only participated in jumps this season and not any sprints or relays, Salter says that track gives him an advantage and keeps him in shape when he’s not playing football.
“Even though this year I was only doing jumps this season, I still worked out with the team every running practice that we had,” Salter said. “Everybody can use a little extra speed, and that’s one way to get my speed up. Even though I was just doing jumps, that was making my legs stronger.
“Track comes in handy, especially with the practices and helping you stay in shape.”
Salter boasts a 47-6 in the triple jump and a long jump of 22-10 from this past season, further showing off his explosiveness as an athlete.
Even though the COVID-19 outbreak has pushed back Salter’s commitment timeline, he still knows what he’s looking for in a school. He not only wants a program that will help him reach the NFL, but he wants to find a school and a community that will aid him once football is over.
“I want to be a coach when I grow up, so I just want to be around football,” Salter said about what he wants in a school. “Being able to get a job when I leave football. If I don’t make it to the league, being able to come back and get a job because of the degrees I have. Good team, good staff, great coaches, of course. The school atmosphere, the guys and how they talk to you and just like the brotherhood of the school.”
Tennessee has positioned themselves well with Salter, and the Vols are pursuing a few quarterbacks in the 2021 cycle. Once recruiting visits are allowed again, expect to see Salter and Tennessee figure out a plan for an official visit rather quickly.