Can Vols hold onto Austin Kendall?

Can Tennessee hold on to the commitment of junior quarterback and Scout four-star prospect Austin Kendall? Sign in to read about the Tar Heel State's best.

Among the definitions for “firm” are “not likely to change; fixed; settled; unalterable.”

While it’s not “100-percent” or a “guarantee,” Tennessee fans will take Austin Kendall’s description of his commitment level to being a Volunteer.

The pledge from the Cuthbertson (N.C.) High School junior quarterback has stood since Aug. 3. Tennessee coach Butch Jones and his staff need to hold on as tight as possible to turn that verbal word into a signed National Letter of Intent.

Kendall made the drive west from Charlotte last weekend, arriving on Friday night and returning home on Saturday night, seeing construction progress on the $99 million 684-bed apartment residence hall going up next to the Neyland-Thompson Sports Center and the $160 million Student Union.

One of the most important aspects of the trip was a sit-down with first-year Tennessee offensive coordinator Mike DeBord. The coach with 30 years of experience must build a relationship with Kendall in order to secure the quarterback’s signing.

“It’s going good,” said Kendall, who estimated his number of visits to Knoxville at eight. “I always had a good relationship with coach Jake, but it’s established now with coach DeBo already. So I’ll be looking forward to it.

“He’s a personable person. He’s really easy to talk to. So, I really like that about him.

“He’s looked (Kendall’s game film) a couple times. He said he’s excited about me getting up there. He hasn’t really told me anything to work on, but he likes how I can make every throw on the field. It’s good to hear.”

The 6-foot-2, 200-pound Kendall, ranked the No. 19 quarterback in the 2016 class and top-rated junior signal-caller in the Tar Heel State, has a trio of offensive coordinators hot on his trail in attempt to get him to flip away from Tennessee, including Auburn’s Rhett Lashlee, Florida’s Doug Nussmeier and Kentucky’s Shannon Dawson.

The Scout four-star prospect is one of six early commitments to Tennessee’s 2016 class and the only quarterback the staff figures to take, which was reiterated by Butch Jones on Saturday.

“Yeah, I talked to him for a little bit. They told me they’re only going to take one guy, but I’m excited about that,” Kendall said.

When he arrives on campus, Kendall knows how much of a task it is to start over in college and wants to avoid that at all costs.

“That’s what I’m not looking to do,” he said. “I don’t want to transfer wherever I go. I’ve got to put that into play, too.”

Speculation circulated about Kendall’s status with Tennessee after Quinten Dormady, Jauan Jennings and Sheriron Jones all joined the roster as part of the 2015 signing class.

“It’s not that much of a concern,” Kendall told InsideTennessee. “Wherever you go you want to play as soon as you can. That’s always in the back of your mind. You’re always going to compete anywhere you go.

“It’s not my top thing but I mean if the opportunity comes then yeah I’d love to do that. If I could I’d get a year under my belt and just experience it all. But, like I said, opportunities come. I think I have ability. I can play.”

In 2014, Kendall transferred back to Cuthbertson High School after leading Charlotte Christian to a state championship. The junior completed 310 of 513 passes for 4,461 yards with 49 touchdowns and 15 interceptions.

With Kendall’s help, the Cuthbertson Cavaliers reached the 2014 NCHSAA Class 3AA state semifinals, falling to Weddington 24-21. Their offense averaged 50.1 points per game in their three playoff victories.

The right-hander is to take part in the Charlotte NIKE Football Training Camp in early May. He said he is “not sure yet” on visiting other campuses this spring or summer.

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