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Impact Analysis: Kaidon Salter

Tennessee’s recruiting bonanza didn’t hit pause for a holiday, as quarterback Kaidon Salter committed to the Vols over Auburn and Baylor on Mother’s Day.

The 2021 quarterback out of Cedar Hill (Texas) is a duel-threat talent and true playmaker at the position, throwing for more than 2,500 yards as a junior with 38 total touchdowns.

Salter becomes the 21st commitment in Tennessee’s class — and 10th verbal pledge in just the last two weeks.

Here’s a detailed look at what Salter’s decision means…

SCOUTING REPORT

"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."

— Sam Spiegelman, Rivals Southwest Analyst

HOW SALTER FITS IN WITH THE VOLS?

The Vols have a crowded quarterback room right now, with five scholarship quarterbacks — Jarrett Guarantano, Brian Maurer, Harrison Bailey, JT Shrout and Jimmy Holiday — plus former Maryland starter and walk-on Kassim Hill.

But that room stands to look a lot different by the time Salter arrives on campus. Guarantano is guaranteed to be gone, and in all likelihood, at least one of the other underclassmen won’t be back, either. There’s also the possibility, although it’s not a certainty as some already are assuming, that Holiday could switch positions.

Salter is a very different quarterback than Bailey or Holiday. He doesn’t have the former 5-star’s cannon arm or Holiday’s lightening speed, but the Texas native does possess a nice combo of athleticism and real arm talent. Although he’s just 6-foot-1, 180-pounds, Salter has some of the same improv instincts of a guy like Russell Wilson.

Spiegelman sees a former old-school NFL star quarterback in Salter, too.

"With such a gifted arm, Salter has Randall Cunningham-like potential at the next level," he said.

Salter will have to battle for early playing time, but his visit just before the COVID-19 crisis cemented his decision about Tennessee, as Salter isn’t demurred by competition.

WHAT DOES SALTER’S COMMITMENT MEAN FOR TENNESSEE?

In this day and age of quarterback movement, it’s imperative to sign at least one quarterback each cycle. There’s always the grad transfer market, but Tennessee identified Salter as its main target following some decisions by other primary prospects.

Once Eli Stowers (Texas A&M), Brock Vandagriff (Georgia) and Drake Maye (North Carolina) came off the board, the Vols pivoted their attention toward Salter. Recent Penn State commit Christian Veilleux had his fans on staff, but Jim Chaney made Salter his major priority.

With the Texas native now in the boat, Tennessee has now added a quarterback, two tailbacks, a promising offensive tackle and a hybrid wideout/tight end in just the last 10 days.