So you want to be a quarterback?

Advice from former Vikings QB Kyle Sloter

by Jackson Boline

In the competitive football world, aspiring young quarterbacks face a daunting journey as they look to reach the next level. The path is riddled with challenges and hurdles, but these obstacles mold the character of a true quarterback. Success for a young quarterback entails dedication to the craft, making sacrifices, becoming obsessed with being the best, and in some cases, like that of NFL quarterback Kyle Sloter, it takes changing positions to reach the next level.  

Sloter comes from a small town in Georgia where he attended Mount Pisgah Christian School. It was at Mount Pisgah where he set nearly every record with 9,200 total yards, including over 6,000 passing yards and 3,000 rushing yards and 87 career touchdowns. 

Yet, although he was a superstar quarterback, he wasn’t highly recruited out of high school. 

“I was very under-recruited,” said Sloter. “I had two offers, one from Tulane and one from Southern Mississippi, and the Tulane offer got taken after a coaching change, and the new coach told me I wasn’t good enough. So I was without an offer at Tulane, but I got offered at Southern Miss late, and they made me a wide receiver. It took a lot of adversity just to get to college.”

Sloter played two seasons at Southern Mississippi where he fell on the QB depth chart and then asked coaches to try his hand at receiver. He caught five passes for 35 yards as a freshman and competed at receiver and tight end as a sophomore. Without much of a future at Southern Mississippi he decided to transfer to the University of Northern Colorado his junior season. He eventually got back to playing quarterback and when an injury occurred to the team’s starter, stepped in and had a record setting day. 

Sloter threw for 408 yards and 7 touchdowns in a 55-42 win over Abilene Christian, winning many athlete of the week accolades. 

He finished his senior season with 2,656 passing yards and 29 passing touchdowns, which was good enough to set a new single season program record. he was also named the Male Athlete of the Year. 

“After three or four years I finally got a chance to show what I could do and I took advantage of it,” said Sloter. 

Despite his strong senior season, Sloter was not invited to the 2017 NFL Combine. Instead he competed at the Northern Colorado Pro Day where he registered a 4.65 40-yard dash, a 9’1” broad jump and an arm speed of 58 miles per hour, which was one mile per hour shy of the top throwing speed at that year’s NFL Combine.

Sloter was eventually signed as an undrafted free agent by the Denver Broncos in 2017 after being told by both the Redskins and the Broncos throughout the draft he would be selected in the draft, but teams continued to pick other players. He would go on to play for the Minnesota Vikings, Arizona Cardinals, Detroit Lions, Chicago Bears, Las Vegas Raiders, Jacksonville Jaguars, and continued his football career in the USFL and XFL. 

Every player’s story is different, but no matter how good a player is, it takes that extra hour of practice throwing, one more rep in the weight room, and one more look at the playbook. Most athletes that have options to play football after high school have the talent to do so, but not everyone has the work ethic, not only on the gridiron, but in the classroom.  

Kyle Sloter rolls out in an August 29, 2019 preseason away game against the Buffalo Bills. Sloter took an unlikely path to the NFL, but his resilience paid off in the long run. PHOTO COURTESY OF MINNESOTA VIKINGS

“You want to give yourself the best opportunity to be a recruitable guy, and that doesn’t just mean just on the field but academically too,” said Sloter, who was named to the Conference USA Commissioner’s Academic Honor Roll as a freshman at Southern Mississippi. “I’ve known and heard of many athletes who have been stud football players but have a GPA under two, so colleges never gave them a chance. It doesn’t matter how smart you are, school is about putting the work in, and if you show college coaches that you don’t put hard work into your schooling, they don’t expect you to put work into football.”

Sloter wasn’t just a star football player in high school but he was a great basketball player as well. Standing 6’5”, he scored 2,100 career points and helped his team reach the final four in the state tournament. 

“I think having another hobby or sport is important,” he said. “In fact, if I’m lucky enough to have kids one day I will push them to play another sport or have another activity whether it’s an instrument or anything. I found it to be important to get your mind off of the game you are mastering sometimes so you don’t get burnt out, and so you can have another skill.”

Sloter felt basketball not only got his mind off football when it was needed, but it helped his footwork and speed. 

“When I got to the pro level and I couldn’t play basketball or anything else on the side in risk of injury, I felt as if my footwork was affected,” said Sloter. 

Being a two-sport athlete or a football player who plays the trumpet on the side, you have extra tape to send to recruits which can’t hurt, he said.

“Showing a recruit that you have the ability and discipline to not only be a great ball player, but a great athlete and a great scholar can’t hurt, it can only help,” said Sloter.

Sloter’s story doesn’t mean one has to play another sport or have another activity to make the next level, as there are plenty of examples of one-sport athletes who have made it very far. But if a player is looking for another reason for recruits to notice you, being a multi-sport athlete or having another discipline in life that encompasses a dedicated work ethic can be key attributes that are attractive to coaches at the next level. 

Sloter also said just simply being a good person and working within the community can also go a long way.

“Everything is a competition, from school,  to the sports you play, and how good of a person you are in the community,” he said. “Recruiters will look for all of this, so you have to ask yourself, if they talked to people around the community will they say good things? They will talk to the school’s principal, so will the principal have good things to say about you as a person? Remember, the principal will know how you treat teachers and students in the school. It’s all a competition on how good you can be at everything,.”

Sloter’s advice offers a simple guideline to follow but the hard part is to have the discipline and resilience to follow it.

It serves as a guiding beacon for aspiring signal-callers looking to make their mark in the football world and reach the next level of competition.