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Three storylines to watch for during BYU’s spring practice

Backup quarterback battle and an early test for the transfer portal will take center stage

BYU quarterback Jaren Hall (3) celebrates as teammate and running back Tyler Allgeier (25) crosses the goal line to score a touchdown as Baylor safety JT Woods (22) defends during the first half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Oct. 16, 2021, in Waco, Texas. (AP Photo/Ron Jenkins)

BYU’s spring practice begins Feb. 28 and runs through the end of March. Here are three storylines to watch for over the next five weeks.

Finding a backup

There is no doubt Jaren Hall will be BYU’s starting quarterback next season. The only problem is, the rest of the quarterback room is filled with question marks.

Without former quarterback Baylor Romney in the program, BYU is left without a clear backup for the first time in three years. And if history is any guide, BYU will likely need to turn to a backup at some point this season.

In the past three years, no starting quarterback at BYU has made it through a full year. Zach Wilson was injured for three games in 2019 and missed one more in 2020. Hall also missed three games in 2021 during his lone season as the starter.

Look for spring practice to play out as an early battle for the emergency role. There are three quarterbacks in the running, but they have a combined five college appearances and 227 passing yards.

Jacob Conover comes into camp as the likely backup. He has played in two games at BYU and had 45 passing yards. He will likely be pushed by Cade Fennegan, a Boise State transfer who did not play last year.

Sol-Jay Maiava-Peters is a dark horse candidate in the spring, but is yet to make his college debut after two years in the program. He has a different style of play than Conover and Fennegan, and is seen as a clear fourth option right now.

A test for the transfer portal?

The defense has been BYU’s Achilles heel, and the remedy isn’t obvious in 2022. Although the unit returns all 11 starters, this group is young and looking for a true playmaker.

There have been flashes of consistency, but spring practice will be a chance for players like Tyler Batty and Gabe Summers to show clear progress on the defensive line. In the secondary, BYU will be looking for support around Malik Moore. And the linebackers will also need reinforcements.

Something to monitor is it’s early enough to dip into the transfer portal if BYU doesn’t see clear growth in the spring. BYU has kept two or three spots open — and more will become available in the summer — to add scholarship transfers. The defense is the most obvious place where the program could bring players in to contribute immediately and add more depth.

Running back, running back, running back

BYU is returning 18 of 22 starters from last year, but there is one notable absence: Tyler Allgeier.

Allgeier accounted for almost 30% of the offense by himself, rushing for a program-record 23 touchdowns and 1,606 yards. Replacing him with one person will be nearly impossible.

Instead, spring practice will be the first chance to see the committee of running backs to fill the void. Cal transfer Chris Brooks and returning back Lopini Katoa will vie for a starting spot. Younger players will also be in the mix.

Of interest will be how BYU uses fullbacks to make up for the running back production. Kalani Sitake brought in Stanford transfer Houston Heimuli to pair with Masen Wake to beef up the throwback position. Now, it is about incorporating those weapons into the offense.