Liberty QB Kaidon Salter to return to Flames after brief transfer portal foray

Salter was the Conference USA MVP in 2023

Liberty quarterback Kaidon Salter (7) scrambles during the first half on the NCAA Fiesta Bowl college football game against Oregon Monday, Jan. 1, 2024, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
Kaidon Salter threw for over 2,800 yards and rushed for over 1,000 yards in 2023. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

Kaidon Salter isn’t transferring after all.

Liberty announced Friday that its quarterback would return for the 2024 season after a brief foray into the transfer portal. Salter entered the transfer portal earlier in the week after Liberty had lost the Fiesta Bowl to Oregon.

Salter was named Conference USA MVP during 2023 as he narrowly missed out on joining LSU QB and Heisman winner Jayden Daniels in the 3,000/1,000 club. Salter was 177-of-290 passing for 2,876 yards and 32 TDs and rushed 163 times for 1,089 yards and 12 TDs.

Liberty got its first New Year’s Six bowl berth ever after going 13-0. The Flames played the easiest regular-season schedule of anyone in college football in their first season in Conference USA but went undefeated and finished a spot ahead of SMU for the coveted Group of Five spot in the New Year’s Six games.

Salter’s return is a big boost for a Liberty program positioned to dominate Conference USA for years. The school has a bigger football budget than its peers and was able to lure Coastal Carolina coach Jamey Chadwell to the school after the 2022 season to replace Hugh Freeze when Freeze left for Auburn. Chadwell’s offense is one of the most inventive in college football, and Liberty averaged over seven yards per play and 38 points per game in 2023.

Had Salter remained in the transfer portal, it was easy to see him starting at a Power Five school. The former four-star recruit in the class of 2020 initially signed with Tennessee out of high school and transferred to Liberty in the spring of 2021.

He played in two games in his first season with the Flames before taking over as the starter in 2022. He was 87-of-149 passing for 1,088 yards and eight touchdowns with five interceptions over eight games a season ago.