Albuquerque (NM) defensive end Teton Saltes is no stranger to major Power 5 interest, but his decision will ultimately be weighed more on relationships than simply a big-name draw.
The 6-foot-5, 230-pound defensive end has been offered by Oregon, California, Illinois, Iowa, New Mexico, New Mexico State, Texas Tech, Tennessee, Washington, Washington State and Iowa State, but his first official visit will come this weekend to Iowa State.
“There’s a lot of big schools coming after me, which is pretty cool, but as far as schools that I like, I think it says a lot that out of schools like Tennessee, UCLA and Cal and Oregon, out of all of those, Iowa State is my first official visit,” Saltes said. “That goes to show how great of a feel I have with Iowa State. There are other big schools out there that I wouldn’t mind going to visiting and kind of getting a feel for them and see if there are some things I like about their program and things like that.”
Iowa State has been in on Saltes since the end of his junior year. The Cyclones, who haven’t delved into New Mexico much in the past, have made Saltes a priority along with New Mexico offensive lineman Grant Hermanns, who committed to Iowa State this fall.
Saltes and Hermanns are regarded as two of the top prospects in New Mexico.
“Coach [Stan] Eggen actually came down and visited me a few times, came and watched my football practices and then he came down to my football game a few weeks ago,” Saltes said. “I think they were actually one of the first schools to talk to me, get to know me. Talking with Coach Rhoads, there’s a lot of schools recruiting me, but Iowa State is one of the few schools I actually got to know the head coach.”
Those relationships will, in the end, play a major factor.
Saltes currently plans to take all five visits, which would likely extend into the winter and thus push his commitment closer to February. Iowa State likes how Saltes translates to the 3-4 scheme as a big and quick pass-rusher off the edge.
“I know Coach Eggen has talked to me and Coach Rhoads, too, and they said they can see me as an elite pass-rusher,” Saltes said. “I’m a pretty decent sized guy. I’m not Shawn Oakman [sized], but I’m a pretty big guy. What makes me unique, I guess, is I have a lot of speed and agility. They see a lot of potential in me as far as my speed and my strength and leverage and stuff like that.”
Saltes, whose basketball skillset helps him translate footwork and speed to the football field, has been watching Iowa State in recent weeks to get a better feel for the defensive formations. He expects to learn more this weekend.
“The biggest thing for me is pretty much, will I be happy there? In particular, I look at, do I have a connection with the coach? That’s definitely the case with Coach Eggen,” Saltes said. “There’s a lot of coaches out there — and I won’t name them — and I’ve been speaking with them and it’s kind of a cold feeling you get with them where it’s not extremely personal. That definitely plays a big factor into where I’m going to go and play football. Iowa State, I definitely feel that there more so than pretty much any other schools. That’s probably the biggest factor in determining whether or not I will attend that school.”