One of the fun parts of signing day is that the coaches can finally discuss these players that they’ve been recruiting for one to two — sometimes three or four years. You’ll usually get the canned “he’s got a high motor, gonna make our program better” type of answer, but sometimes you’ll get beneath the surface a little bit.
With Tennessee this year, Kaidon Salter is obviously a prospect of interest. The four-star quarterback out of Texas quickly became the face of this class, never wavering off of a May commitment. Salter, a top 50 overall prospect in the 2021 class according to 247Sports, will enroll early and likely enter this wide open quarterback race for next season.
He’s going to be one of the main storylines once we get to spring ball.
“Kaidon Salter is a guy, who right before we got shut down, came on an unofficial visit,” Jeremy Pruitt told the media on Wednesday. “We got a chance to spend some time with him, just really liked his makeup, loved his family, loved his tape. A guy that is very athletic that we think has a lot of upside and a guy that we are really excited about.”
Salter visited Tennessee on the final weekend before the recruiting shutdown — something that is still in place to this day. That visit likely went a long way in his final decision just two months later, where he chose the Volunteers over Auburn.
The 6-1, 185 pound passer competed in the Elite 11 finals this offseason, following in the footsteps of Harrison Bailey who came in a year ahead of him. He’s been praised for his raw athletic ability and arm strength, which Pruitt was asked about on Wednesday.
“To me, you always want an athletic quarterback,” Pruitt said. “Growing up on the defensive side, a guy that can extend plays can present something in the run game from a quarterback’s perspective and creates another dynamic for the defensive team. It’s great that Kaidon has got a talented arm, but he’s also a really good athlete and you can watch it on his high school tape. He’s a guy that’s very creative.”
Athletic ability at the quarterback position hasn’t been something that Tennessee has had since the Josh Dobbs era. Brian Maurer brings a little bit of that to the table, but hasn’t been able to find consistent playing time to this point. With Harrison Bailey, J.T. Shrout and now Kaidon Salter in the picture, Tennessee’s quarterback battle throughout 2021 seems wide open.
“I expect all these guys to compete for playing time,” Pruitt said. “That’s why we recruited him here. They will all have the same opportunity as everybody else.”