Jaren Hall wins BYU’s starting quarterback job

Baylor Romney expected to be Hall’s backup Week 1 vs. Arizona

BYU has its man.

Jaren Hall has won the Cougars’ starting quarterback job, beating out Baylor Romney for the title of QB1. Hall appeared in five games for BYU — and started in two — in 2019, completing 31 of 46 passes for 420 yards and a touchdown. He also rushed for 139 yards and three scores that year.

“It feels good,” Hall said. “Our work really begins, time to focus in on Arizona. For today, enjoy it with my wife and my family. It’s fun, but we’ve got to go win [next] Saturday.”

If it felt as though the Cougars’ quarterback battle was drawn out, that’s because it was. Offensive coordinator Aaron Roderick said he had never gone this far into fall camp splitting up reps equally due to a quarterback position battle.

The decision started taking shape a week ago, BYU head coach Kalani Sitake said, but the staff used that time as an opportunity for the Romney and Jacob Conover to “change [the coaches’] minds.” They did well, but it wasn’t enough to beat out Hall for the starting gig.

“Those guys are great young men with great character, so they were classy,” Sitake said. “... When handling these tough situations, I thought they handled it like mature adults. They’re team guys — they’re guys who are about the team first. So, they understand and they know their role now; We’re relying on them to be their best self for our team to be as good as it possibly can.”

So what did Hall do to beat out the competition?

Roderick said Hall’s game looks similar to what fans saw out of him in 2019, but he’s more of a veteran player. The Spanish Fork product also has a better understanding of the offense now and he’s used his time in the program well, Roderick said.

For Sitake, part of what separated Hall from the competition was making plays consistently.

Hall believes his ability to take care of the ball, executing the offense and getting the ball to his playmakers’ hands was what helped him win the starting gig.

While Hall is listed as a redshirt sophomore, he is entering his fourth season at BYU. With that time comes maturity and a better understanding of the offense.

Back in 2019, Hall served as Zach Wilson’s backup quarterback and started two games when Wilson was out with a fractured thumb. Unfortunately for Hall, he left both games early due to concussions. Hall sat out the 2020 season to nurse a hip injury, so fans haven’t seen him in action in nearly two years. While his play may still look the same, Hall said the aspect he’s most improved on has been his mental game.

The sophomore said he has a better understanding, before a play even begins, what his options are. It allows him to do thinks quicker and know when to keep or get rid of the ball.

“I think early on in my years [at BYU], I relied on my athletic ability,” Hall said. “... I think today, [I’m] just processing things quicker and understanding the offense better — knowing against certain looks when our concepts are going to be good and when they’re not. Again, just for me, it’s just an experience in being more comfortable, being in the pocket and understanding where to go, and when to use the athletic ability on the side to make something happen.”

Hall started putting in the work to win the position battle since well before fall camp started. In fact, it was almost a year ago.

Hall could have gotten some action during the 2020 season, but opted to sit it out completely to focus on his health. That decision then trickled over to the spring season, when Hall gave up playing baseball (he was previously a dual athlete at BYU) to solely focus on football.

The decision was also made for the purpose of staying healthy.

Then, over the summer, Hall traveled to southern California to work with former BYU quarterback John Beck — the same move Wilson made a year ago that helped him win the starting role for the 2020 season.

“Jaren’s a very athletic guy who’s capable of doing a lot of things, but you’ve got to be able to be very repeatable and that’s something that we worked on,” Beck said recently. “I don’t like comparing Zach to Jaren, or whoever the next quarterback is going to be, but I do like to use some of the things I saw Zach improve on. And repeatability is absolutely one of those things.”

As far as the complete depth chart, Sitake said that will be released on Monday. But when asked if the staff has a QB2, Roderick said Romney currently has that role.

The competition is ongoing, not just for the backup quarterback position, but for the starter.

“Jaren’s not dumb, he knows he’s got to play well, there’s good players behind him,” Roderick said. “I expect him to do that, though. I have a lot of confidence that he’s going to play great. But all those guys know that in this program, competition is ongoing all the time at every position.”