football Edit

Tennessee stays red hot on the trail, landing Texas QB Kaidon Salter

THE SITUATION

Quarterbacks always tend to make their decisions earlier than most prospects and the next one off the board in Texas has made his decision.

Kaidon Salter, a three-star dual-threat from Cedar Cill (Texas) High School, committed to Tennessee on Mother's Day. Auburn, Baylor and Arizona State were Salter's other finalists.

The Dallas-area prospect made a countrywide college campus tour at the beginning of the spring with stops at Auburn, Georgia Tech, Florida State, Arkansas, South Carolina and Ole Miss. His visit to Knoxville, Tenn., was the last unofficial trip taken before his May 10 decision.

The timing of the decision is especially fitting as Salter recently told Rivals that Tennessee was his mother's school of preference.

Tennessee entered Sunday with the nation's No. 2-ranked recruiting class on the Rivals team rankings. It is tops in the SEC. Salter is the first Lone Star State prospect in the haul and the only quarterback to commit to date.

Additionally, Salter's commitment is the Vols' 15th since the beginning of March, many of which have come during the CoVid-19 pandemic requiring people to stay at home for the bulk of the spring.

IN HIS OWN WORDS

"It was a big decision for me and my family. Tennessee just felt like the right place to be. When I visited there, it was like home. There was great facilities and great coaches. Everything about Tennessee was just great."

"Being able to get down there to watch their practices, sit down and talk to the coaches and talk to them one-by-one. The three main coaches involved with the offense are Coach (Chris) Weinke, Coach (Jeremy) Pruitt and Coach (Jim) Chaney. Being able to get to sit down and talk one-on-one with them and them telling me about the chances to come in and compete for a spot, it was really big. Then, being able to watch their practice was real bad, seeing how the coaches coach up the players and how Coach Weinke coached up the quarterbacks after every drive, just telling them the rights and wrongs."

"The offense is gonna change up just a tad bit when I come in. I'm gonna have to adapt to the pro-style quarterback position that thinks and runs and just let Coach Weinke build me up to a pro-style and see how it goes. That's real big, knowing Coach Weinke was a Heisman Trophy winner -- that was big and can adapt to help me get to the next step."

"Tennessee -- they were really big. Ever since they offered me, they've shown love, texting me every day and texting my mom and dad in the morning, 'Good morning.' Tennessee even sent my little sister a 'Happy Birthday' (card). I was like, 'Wow, that really was big right there."

"I really had to take my time and figure this out. It was a long little process, I just had to enjoy the ride and take my time. It came down to the relationship that we had. They were there every day, talking to them every day. It was just love and feeling like home when it went down. I knew, ever since I came back from Tennessee, I was looking at and talking to coaches every day, putting research in all day, and it was just love."

"It's real crazy because Mother's Day runs big in my family. My great-great-grandma, she's 100 years old. There are four generations of mothers in my family. It was real special for my mom and she's gonna cry. It's gonna be fun at the same time because we trusted the process."

"This is real big for Tennessee, this 2021 class bringing in all these big-time players, is putting Tennessee back on the mountain. We're gonna come in do what we got to do to compete, get on the field and win some games."

RIVALS REACTION

Salter pieced together his breakout season as a junior in 2019 at Cedar Hill, operating a vertical, downfield passing attack that highlighted the quarterback's strong arm, ability to make incredible plays while off-balance or on the move, and also attack defenses with his mobility. Salter was named the District 7-6A MVP after leading the Longhorns to a 9-3 record and advancing to the second round of the 6A D-II playoffs.

The dual-threat threw for 1,266 yards, 6 touchdowns and 4 interceptions as a sophomore for Bishop Lynch with a 51-percent completion percentage. He also added 268 yards and 6 touchdowns rushing that season. Last year with Cedar Hill, Salter doubled and quadrupled some of those numbers, producing 2,550 yards through the air and a 28:6 touchdown to interception ratio. He also improved his completion percentage to 61 percent and accounted for 616 yards rushing and 10 scores.

Away from the football field, Salter has a verified 4.85-second 40 time from 2018. The 6-foot-1, 185-pounder is a two-sport athlete that competes in the 300-meter hurdles, high jump, long jump, triple jump and is a part of the 4x400 relay team.

Salter engineers a true spread offense that capitalizes on massive arm strength and speedy wide receivers. He's shown the ability to throw upward of 80 yards while scrambling to his right with the flip of a wrist and the ability to make accurate throws moving to both his right and left. Salter throws with exceptional touch and knows when to take a little off and when to rifle passes into his receivers. He often throws across the body or off-balanced or on the move, but often is able to somehow pull these plays off with some degree of consistency.

Of Salter's 28 touchdowns last season, film analysis shows that more than one-third were 30 yards or greater. Of those 30-plus-yard touchdown passes, five were 50 yards or better.

Part of what makes Salter such a special quarterback prospect besides his arm strength is his ability to accurately attack defenses downfield vertically and outside the numbers. Salter can laser passes in over the middle but does his best work throwing over the top. His ability to extend plays by moving around inside the pocket or scrambling left and right allows his receivers to get 30 and 40 yards downfield before he launches it.

Salter's game features a quick release and the make throws while on the move or off-balanced with good accuracy. He can do the same without setting his feet.

As a runner, Salter is a defensive coordinator’s nightmare due to his ability to flip the switch and begin sprinting. He’s a tough runner with enough speed to break runs to the outside or up the middle as plays collapse. Salter can break tackles and is constantly keeping his eyes downfield looking to throw.

Moving forward, the biggest challenges ahead of Salter are limiting throws across his body or throws without setting his feet. While he has the ability to throw darts between the numbers, his accuracy needs to improve in that area. With such a gifted arm, mobility and the ability to pull off unfathomable plays, Salter has Randall Cunningham-like potential at the next level.