Josh Heupel had already inherited a difficult situation when taking over the Tennessee football program. The last thing he needed was four players getting suspended indefinitely due to legal issues, three of whom play key positions that are wide open in spring practice.
That’s exactly what happened, though, and it was all dating back to a drug-related incident in March. One of those players was Kaidon Salter, a four-star quarterback signee in the 2021 class and early enrollee. Salter was considered a potential favorite to win the starting job at that spot and grow with Heupel in the future.
We still don’t know all the details, but Salter was a minor at the time, so his name initially wasn’t released with the other three: Aaron Willis, Martavius French and Isaac Washington. Salter, however, was the one to first apologize to Tennessee football on Twitter, showing his maturity.
I just want to take this opportunity to apologize to my team, my coaches the Vol fans & my parents for my negative choices
I know my choices disappointed many but my end goal is to eliminate my distractions get on the field & earn my respect back #gottoKEEPmypopsPROUD#levelup pic.twitter.com/qHcrHEtYAj
— k7 (@KaidonSalter_7) April 6, 2021
Perhaps is because he is facing less charges due to him being a minor when the arrests happened, but Salter deserves credit for that apology. Even if it looks like a PR move, it’s still one nobody else has made, and it’s one he didn’t have to make.
In fact, there’s an argument that players shouldn’t have to apologize for drug arrests, depending on what the drug is. It didn’t matter to Salter, though. He recognized what he was on scholarship to do and knew apologizing was the right move.
Salter has been showing leadership skills even before he arrived on campus. He was one of the first people to publicly state his commitment to UT no matter what, saying that the struggles were just more of an opportunity for him to help rebuild the program.
Given that fact, it’s clear that Salter wouldn’t run from such issues. He could be similar to Jauan Jennings in that way. Jennings was a vocal leader who had a legal issue of his own back in the day but manned up and apologized for it before returning to the field to dominate. Salter seems to have those leadership skills, and that’s what Tennessee football needs.