Either Tennessee second-year coach Butch Jones and offensive coordinator Mike Bajakian had ants in their pants or they were extremely excited to hear Austin Kendall tell them he’s going to be a Volunteer.
“They both jumped out of their seats,” Kendall told InsideTennessee. “I sat in coach Jones’ office while coach Jake was in a quarterback meeting. But, coach Jones jumped out of his seat and gave my whole family a hug. It’s definitely a family environment here.”
Kendall was with both his parents for “Orange Carpet Day” two weekends ago. This weekend’s trip included Austin’s father, grandfather and brother.
“What’s not to love about Tennessee,?” said Kendall, who transferred this summer from Charlotte Christian to Cuthbertson (N.C.) High School. “They have a great coaching staff. They’ve been on top of me since my freshman year. Quarterbacks are starting to commit early. When it came down to it, I wouldn’t want anybody taking my spot here at Tennessee, so I picked Tennessee.”
The recruiting cycle is accelerated more now than every in the history of college football. The aforementioned interest shown in the right-handed field general as a prep freshman aided the Big Orange in landing his commitment.
“It’s so important,” Kendall said. “All throughout this process, they’ve been in contact with my coaches, trying to get ahold of me every week. I’ve been able to call at least every other week, except when I’ve been busy. I’ve always had a great relationship with the head coach. I have a great relationship with every coach now. I have a great relationship with (Tennessee tight ends) coach (Mark) Elder. I mean he’s great.”
The Scout four-star prospect and No. 233-rated player in the 2016 signing class is quite familiar with what Tennessee has to offer having made six unofficial visits to Knoxville, including seeing a gameday setting at Neyland Stadium as recent as last November.
Having been at Haslam Field to see the Volunteers practice on Saturday, Kendall got an up-close look at the type skill players with which he’ll have to work, including former Scout four-stars Jalen Hurd, Josh Malone and Ethan Wolf.
“Their talent is unbelievable,” Kendall said. “At practice, it’s all up-tempo. I love how they do it. I’m just looking forward to getting up here in two years. I’m going to come in early, so I’m definitely looking forward to that and I’m excited.”
Joining the Charlotte, N.C., resident as juniors pledged to the Orange & White are three-star offensive tackle Ryan Johnson and three-star cornerbacks Dorian Banks and Bailey Phillips. As seen in the past, getting a prized quarterback on the commitment list can oftentimes aid greatly in securing the signature of other offensive weapons.
“It’s going to help a lot just because I’m ranked pretty high,” said Kendall, who Scout has as the No. 17 junior quarterback in the nation. I mean we got a pretty big lineman commitment a couple weeks ago (Johnson). I’m really excited to get to join him.”
Kendall had tentative plans to see games on several college campuses this fall, however, with today’s news, some of those could be scrapped.
“Right now, I mean I don’t know,” he said. “I’m just looking forward to Tennessee football.”
The four-star says he will be in attendance when the Volunteers play Utah State in Knoxville on Aug. 31. He will also see “some other big games.”