Teton Saltes: A football recruit from a basketball family

Feature photo courtesy of Teton Saltes.

Each year, over a million athletes participate in high school football across America. Despite this staggering number, roughly 2% of these athletes go on to play at the Division I level. With such slim statistical chances, one might assume that the athletes making up the mere 2% must have been playing the game since their childhood. But that is not the case for defensive end, Teton Saltes, who has only been playing football for two years.

“I played a little in my eighth grade year, but I didn’t really like it,” Saltes said. “I thought it was boring and repetitive.”

Saltes, a senior at Valley High School in Albuquerque, New Mexico, comes from a predominantly basketball family that never showed much interest in football. Both of his parents played Division I basketball, his mother at Brigham Young University and his father at Weber State University. Not only did his father play in college, but he also played professionally for the New York Knicks for a year before traveling to Germany to continue his career overseas.

Although Saltes carried out the family basketball tradition through high school, the looks he received from scouts were nowhere near as heavy as the looks he would receive from football scouts, as Saltes would soon find out.

His football journey didn’t officially start until his junior season, but the path to get there started his freshman year. “When I got into high school, I was [6-foot 4] as a freshman,” Saltes said. “And my football coaches, they [were] coming at me ever since.”

The football team’s coaching staff insisted that Saltes would wind up with a scholarship, but their early attempts at convincing him to try out were unsuccessful. Eventually, their persistence paid off when Saltes told himself he wouldn’t know whether or not he would like the game unless he tried it.

“I texted coach one day and said, ‘Hey coach, I’m going to come out for practice and try it out.’ It turns out I was pretty good at it, so I stuck with it,” Saltes said.

The ability to be aggressive is one aspect of football that Saltes likes compared to basketball. “The more aggressive you are, the better,” Saltes said about playing football. “The things I do in football, I’d be ejected for in basketball.”

His aggressive style of play led to not only First-Team All-State recognition in his senior season, but also around 14 Division I scholarships after only two years on the field.

“I thought New Mexico would come after me,” Saltes said. “I didn’t really think I’d get Oregon, Baylor, and all these other big schools. I never really thought I’d be on that level.”

Even though Saltes’ football career had just begun, his performances quickly caught the attention of college scouts and coaches. As a defensive end, his size mixed with athleticism was an appealing combination.

“I’m [6-foot 6] and 240 pounds, but I can move,” Saltes said. “I’m real agile and I’m real explosive.”

But with only two years of football under his belt, Saltes knows there is still much room for improvement in his game. He believes his overall football IQ, his pad level, strength, and technical aspects of his game are all areas to be improved upon.

When asked about how he narrowed his list of schools down, Saltes described several factors he was looking for. Overall, his ideal program is one that he enjoys and has a good connection with the coaches.

“I’m [looking] for coaches that can teach me the game,” Saltes said. “I had a lot of big programs coming after me, but I wanted to know [if they’ll] take the time to develop me.”

Saltes initially narrowed his long list of offers into a final three: New Mexico, San Diego State, and North Carolina. But his final decision kept him close to home, making himself a Lobo at the University of New Mexico.

“I’m looking forward to playing in college,” Saltes said. “I’m looking forward to seeing how good I can become.”

With an enormous amount of potential, and the opportunity to learn the game from a college coaching staff, the sky is the limit for Teton Saltes.

Joe Catapano

Joe Catapano

Recruiting Writer at The Left Bench
Joe is a sophomore multiplatform journalism major from Stratford, Connecticut. His favorite teams are the Jets, Islanders, Knicks and Orioles, so basically, he’ll never celebrate a championship in his lifetime.
Joe Catapano
About Joe Catapano 32 Articles
Joe is a sophomore multiplatform journalism major from Stratford, Connecticut. His favorite teams are the Jets, Islanders, Knicks and Orioles, so basically, he’ll never celebrate a championship in his lifetime.