Pine Ridge native chases dreams, on the 2021 NFL Draft

Teton Saltes played college football at the University of New Mexico as an offensive tackle.
Published: Apr. 7, 2021 at 6:22 PM CDT
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KOTA) - The NFL Draft is a few weeks away. And although millions of people tune in for the event, very few actually know the names and faces picked to join their favorite teams. One of the potential players, people in Western South Dakota might actually recognize.

South Dakota has seen its fair share of actors, activists, and even big-time athletes. But not many originated in one of the country’s poorest places, Pine Ridge.

“I’m just some kid from the reservation, one of the poorest places in the entire country and yet I’m doing really big things,” said Teton Saltes, an NFL Draft prospect.

Like Billy Mills and David Michaud, Teton Saltes discovered a passion for sports, a sport he didn’t consider until a little later in the game.

“Growing up on the reservation, I was like every other kid who loved basketball and then in high school, I got bored waiting for basketball to happen, for basketball season, so I was like ‘let me try football. Might kill the time, it might be kind of fun’, turned out I was pretty good at it,” said Saltes.

Good might have been a bit of an understatement...

“I was just playing just to play and one day my phone started beeping, I looked down it was their head coach from San Diego State, then I looked again and Oklahoma was calling and Oregon and Texas A&M. It becomes surreal at that moment and kind of how I feel now is similar to how I felt back then,” said Saltes. “Now I have the Ravens calling and the Rams, the Packers and so many of these different teams and you’re like wow, I grew up watching them and now I’m potentially going to be a part of that.”

Saltes played college football at the University of New Mexico as an offensive tackle and credits his journey to something his family instilled in him.

“They always told me, you go as far as you want to go,” said Saltes. “As far as you allow yourself to go.”

The 2021 draft begins April 29th but Saltes says there’s a lot of preparation that people don’t get to see, “A lot of people just see, alright combine, draft, on a team. They don’t see all the stuff in between.”

“I was in Arizona for about two months training and then I went to Colorado and trained and went back to New Mexico and meeting with coaches over zoom and pro day, combine training, football training. I mean, it’s a lot,” said Saltes. “But like I said, hopefully, come the draft, I’ll hear my name being called.”

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