Provo • Jaren Hall knew the question would eventually get around to him, but he worked as long as he could to avoid it.
When asked to evaluate who would be the first face of BYU’s Big 12 era, he went through the merits of each candidate. He started with wide receiver Puka Nacua. Then worked his way to the younger skill players.
But when he ran out of people, the inevitable finally came back to him.
“What about you, will you be around to be the face of the Big 12 era?”
It is the biggest question for the future of BYU. Will this season be the last for the fifth-year quarterback?
Hall smiled and gave the most honest answer on the topic yet.
“Since I was a little kid I’ve thought about the NFL,” he told The Salt Lake Tribune. “If I’m being honest, I’m not going to sit here and say, ‘I never think about the NFL.’ That’s my dream right? Since I was a kid.”
For the typically reserved Hall, it was a glimpse into his thinking — a rare near acknowledgment that this season really could be his last in Provo.
Still, the quarterback’s priority is on the present.
“Now I realize that if it is going to happen, it’s going to happen,” Hall said of his NFL aspirations. “I don’t need to worry about when that is. I just need to worry about my summer right now and getting better. And taking care of business against USF.”
Hall starts this year in a much different spot than last year. He is the incumbent starter now, and a dark horse candidate to be a first-round NFL draft pick.
After throwing for 2,583 yards and 20 touchdowns in his first year, the buzz is starting to grow around him. ESPN already has him slotted as high as the No. 9 pick in next year’s draft.
If Hall can knock off Baylor at home and then Oregon on the road in the first three weeks of the season — both nationally televised games — that could be all Hall needs to grab that NFL attention.
“I don’t love the lights, the cameras. I’m not a big fan of all the talk,” Hall said of his name potentially leaping into NFL conversations. “But I’m different from a lot of guys. A lot of guys enjoy that stuff and that is fine.
“I’m going to work in silence regardless, whether [my name gets thrown in there] or not. I’m going to still make sure I’m ready.”
At least for now, Hall is approaching this offseason like it could be his last in college. He has two private quarterback coaches, who he works with in California and Utah. He has also taken on the duties of leading player-only workouts several times a weeks in the summer.
The biggest knock on his candidacy for an NFL roster would be his size and injury history. He is on the smaller end for NFL quarterbacks, at 6-foot-1. He also hasn’t made it through an entire season yet without injury, a red flag for a mobile quarterback.
“He has really changed his body a lot since last year [when he got hurt],” offensive coordinator Aaron Roderick said. “He was already an impressive guy but physically he is in great shape right now and looking really good.”
John Beck, one of his quarterback coaches who also mentored Zach Wilson, believes the injuries are less of a concern.
“The reality is, most of the time outside of the first game, most quarterbacks are playing with a little something,” Beck said. “You could say, ‘I wish Jaren was healthy a little bit more.’ But how awesome is it that he is out there competing all the time as quickly as he can get back on the field.”
Hall has the schedule — playing five Power Five teams and Notre Dame — to prove he can play in the NFL. And for the first time, he acknowledges this might be his final audition.
“Ultimately this fall will take care of itself and kinda decide what happens after that,” Hall finished.