Austin Kendall doesn’t need directions to Knoxville. The junior has visited Tennessee “about five times” with the reason being that the Southeastern Conference university thinks highly of the quarterback’s skill set.
Second-year coach Butch Jones and offensive coordinator Mike Bajakian kick-started the recruiting process with the Scout four-star prospect extremely early and that has the Volunteers placed nicely to land Kendall.
“Coach Jones, coach Jake tell me I’m their guy,” Kendall told InsideTennessee. “They really like me. I love it here. I’m definitely going to keep coming back. They’re definitely one of my top schools. They just love building a relationship with me. I love building with them. I’m looking forward to what’s to come.
“They’ve been on me since my freshman year. They’re one of the first two to get on me, and I like that about them. Everything here is great. I’m just going to keep weighing my options out and go from there.
“Ever since then (freshman season), they’ve called my coaches at Charlotte Christian and Cuthbertson High. They want me to call them every week. I talk to them every week. I call coach Jones on the phone; I have his number. He loves talking to me. He told me he had a dream of me. That’s pretty funny. I just love it here. We’ll see what happens.”
The 6-foot-2, 200-pounder finds value in being a top target for a program like Tennessee.
“It means a lot,” said Kendall, rated the No. 17 junior QB in the nation. “Today they sat down and showed me where the depth chart is, about where I’ll stand within guys they have and when they’ll be gone and how I stack up. They have two commits in 2015 — one is an athlete I’m pretty sure. Basically, I’ll be competing with (Quinten Dormady). The two other guys like (Joshua) Dobbs and (Nathan Peterman) will be gone by then because (Riley) Ferguson is already gone.”
Relationship building with the Tennessee staff is a primary reason for tripping to Rocky Top. Kendall and his parents were able to accomplish that by taking in “Orange Carpet Day” earlier this month.
“Just being able to spend a lot more time with coach Jake and coach Jones…I sat with coach Jones for probably 45 minutes or something,” the four-star said. “The new Peyton Manning room, they said I was the first quarterback to sit in there. So, that means something too. But, I mean they took a lot of their time out of the day. They took me out of the group processes and took me to their offices and sat down and talked to me and had more feel.”
The trip came on the heels of Kendall’s participating in a camp at Georgia.
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“It was a good camp,” he said. “I thought I threw really well. I was real accurate. They’ve offered two kids. One is committed, one is that Jacob Eason kid. Then, they’re going to wait a little bit and evaluate it. Then, they’re going to put two offers out there. I’m probably going to be one of those two. We’ll see what happens with that.”
Kendall lists Georgia, Penn State and South Carolina as schools he’s strongly considering that haven’t yet placed an offer on the table. Others who have that have caught his eye include Kentucky, N.C. State and Tennessee.
Kendall, who says distance “doesn’t really matter,” expects to visit Raleigh again soon.
The top-rated junior quarterback in the Tar Heel State is among the more well-traveled recruits in the 2016 class and figures to add on to his recruitment’s education this fall. Kendall says he plans to see games at Georgia, N.C. State, Penn State, South Carolina and others.
Tennessee opens up versus Utah State at Neyland Stadium in Knoxville on Aug. 31 at 7 p.m. EST. Kendall hopes to be in attendance for that one and possibly another night game this fall.
A college choice is expected “probably after my junior season if not before then.”
As a sophomore, Kendall led Charlotte Christian to an NCISAA Class 3A state championship. The move back to Cuthbertson should spark a team that finished just 4-8 in 2013.
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