New Arkansas offensive coordinator Kendal Briles’ Texas roots are a gift that just keeps giving on the recruiting front.
In February, the Hogs signed Texan Malik Hornsby, a dual-threat quarterback phenom, in large part because of the relationship Hornsby and Briles had formed when Briles was an assistant at the University of Houston.
Now, the Razorbacks are a frontrunner to sign Kaidon Salter, Texas’ top rated quarterback in the class of 2021. Salter, the nation’s No. 89 prospect overall according to 247 Sports, is a 6’1″, 185 dual-threat play-caller with 4.85 speed who threw for 2,550 yards (28 TDs / 6 INTs) while rushing for 616 yards (10 TDs) in 2019 for the 6A Cedar Hill High School.
He is a “high-major prospect with long-term NFL Draft potential,” wrote 247 analyst Gabe Brooks, who compared Salter to Jordan Love, the former Utah State star whom ESPN’s Todd McShay considers to have the highest upside of any quarterbacks in the 2020 NFL Draft:
Assessment of Kaidon Salter:
“Natural playmaker with instincts and feel. Good downfield arm strength with above average short-to-intermediate velocity. Great improvisational skills. Dangerous in the scramble drill. Very mobile and throws well on the move. Pass-first QB but definitely athletic enough to hurt defenses with his legs.”
“Encouraging athletic profile. Track and field athlete who competes in 300 hurdles, high jump, long jump, and triple jump. Will need to continue adding bulk to strengthen overall build. That will also maximize arm strength, particularly vertically.”–247 Sports Gabe Brooks
While Salter is officially still considering 11 schools, all signs indicate Arkansas is at the front of the line. In fact, the Razorbacks (40% ) are only behind Baylor (60%) when it comes to the likelihood of where he will ultimately land, according to five 247 Sports recruiting analysts’ predictions.
Baylor has the advantage of being one of the first Power 5 schools to offer Salter. “That was a big school. I’d been waiting on that [offer] since I was in the eighth grade attending the Baylor camps” he told Dave Campbell’s Texas Football.
Baylor’s associate head coach, Joey McGuire, is a former Cedar High School head coach. While Salter didn’t play for him at Cedar Hill, he knows him well.
“Coming from Cedar Hill, it would be big playing for Baylor and Coach McGuire,” he said.
Watch Salter’s game highlights at the end of the above clip
Arkansas, however, has a few advantages of its own.
For starters, it’s in the SEC. “Most likely the SEC will probably be the best thing for me, most of my offers that I’m interested in are SEC schools,” Salter said in March. “One of them [he also has offers from Auburn, South Carolina and Tennessee] might be the pick.”
More important, though, are the relationships he has formed with Arkansas’ coaches. “I’ve known Coach [Kendal] Briles since I was a freshman when I went to camp at Houston,” Salter told Hawgbeat.com’s Nikki Chavanelle. “He told me he would find me again and he did. Our relationship is great. We talk all the time.”
Kaidon Salter went on an unofficial visit to Arkansas in March and loved what he saw. “Coach Pittman had great energy, I loved him,” Salter said. “He told me I fit in the offense great. As I could see, I also fit. We watched some highlights and film from the QB history and I could see myself in this offense. I was in the quarterback room watching them go through fim, watched the techniques and drills, even watched the quarterbacks in the weight room.”
Salter told Chavanelle he would definitely return on an official visit.
Kaidon’s father, Kenneth, told 247 Sports that Baylor and Arkansas coaches have been the most attentive. “They’re on my line or my wife’s line every day or ever other day building that relationship,” he said.
Going forward, they will do their visits and “research what programs have what and who they’re bringing him in and who’s going to give him an opportunity to play and not have to sit for two or three years before seeing the field. Not saying we have to see the field freshman year, if that happens we’ll be more than happy but we don’t want to sit on the bench two or three years and then get on field junior or senior year.”
This puts Arkansas football in a good place. If its current young dual-threat quarterbacks KJ Jefferson and Malik Hornsby succeed, the program will not need Kaidon Salter as much.
But if Jefferson and Hornsby don’t pan out in the short term, the silver lining would be a higher likelihood of signing Salter.
Kaidon Salter’s Top 11 schools (in no order)
Auburn, Tennessee, Baylor, Michigan State, Kansas, Arkansas, Georgia Tech, Louisville, Utah, Ole Miss and UCLA. (He’s also receiving interest from the likes of Clemson and Alabama.)