Redshirt freshman Jaren Hall has emerged as frontrunner for backup QB job as BYU prepares for Saturday’s spring scrimmage at old Provo High field

Provo • It’s not the final spring practice, and it won’t be a game or even an 11-on-11 scrimmage the entire time. Heck, it won’t even be held at LaVell Edwards Stadium, which is being renovated.

But BYU’s “Spring Open Practice,” as the school is calling it, will still give fans an opportunity to see the football team up close and mingle with others who need a football fix five months before the season opener against Utah, coach Kalani Sitake said.

Saturday’s event at the BYU West Campus — the old Provo High property on University Avenue which the school purchased for $25 million in 2016 — begins at 10:30 a.m. with a clinic for youngsters.

An alumni game will start at 11:30 a.m., while the actual practice kicks off at 1 p.m. and will go for about 90 minutes.

“Our fans will be a lot closer to us and it is going to be a lot of fun,” Sitake said. “We are looking forward to it, and more importantly trying to simulate a game-type environment for our players and get them close to our fans.”


Saturday at BYU West Campus (Old Provo High Stadium)

Admission: Free

Kids Clinic: East gates open at 10 a.m. for 10:30 a.m. clinic

Fan Fest: Begins at 11 a.m. with activities for families, runs through end of scrimmage

Alumni Game: Flag football contest at 11:30 a.m.

Open Practice: Begins at 1 p.m., will include warmup and individual drills, 7-on-7 work and 11-on-11 scrimmage sessions

After Saturday, the Cougars will resume spring practices next Monday and conclude them on Thursday in conjunction with Alumni Day. The school’s Pro Day — where last season’s seniors will work out in front of professional football scouts — is Friday, March 29.

Sitake said the quarterbacks won’t be “live” during the 11-on-11 work Saturday, which means they will wear green jerseys that signal they can’t be hit or tackled. Of course, presumed starter Zach Wilson won’t participate because he is recovering from offseason shoulder surgery. Other expected starters, such as tight ends Moroni Laulu-Pututau and Matt Bushman and receiver Aleva Hifo, won’t play either, due to injuries and/or recent surgeries.

Sitake said that redshirt freshmen Jaren Hall and Baylor Romney and redshirt sophomore Joe Critchlow will get most, if not all, of the reps at quarterback. Hall, who is also playing on the BYU baseball team and drove in the winning run in a 14-13 win over Utah Valley on Tuesday, has emerged as the front-runner to be Wilson’s backup in spring practices.

“As much as Jaren and Baylor and Joe want to, they are not going to be live on Saturday,” Sitake said. “But I think everyone else will be and we will see how it goes. The main reason we are calling it a practice is to get guys in full gear and have them hit a little bit.”

Offensive coordinator Jeff Grimes agreed with Sitake that Hall, the 6-foot-1, 205-pound returned missionary from Maple Mountain High, has been the most impressive QB this spring.

“Three guys have been taking the reps and all of them have done well, although I would say Jaren has done the best, and because of that, like at any position, has received more reps than anyone else,” Grimes said. “So I have really been impressed with him. He’s a good athlete. He can throw the football. But the thing that has impressed me the most this spring is just his poise, and his confidence. He looks like a different guy than he did last fall, and he should.”

Sitake said the scrimmage will also provide an opportunity for some returned missionaries to get their first taste of football in more than two years.

“The bottom line is we are going to get better,” he said.