BYU dipped into the transfer portal again this cycle, and once more brought back a quarterback.
This time it was Jake Retzlaff, a junior college transfer out of Riverside City College in California. He now complements a quarterback room that feels complete with veteran Kedon Slovis, Cade Fennegan, Sol-Jay Maiava-Peters, Nick Billoups and Cole Hagen set to head into spring practice.
BYU will also add freshman Ryder Burton to the room this spring.
Retzlaff threw for 4,596 yards, 44 touchdowns and 14 interceptions in 13 games at Riverside. He averaged 374 yards per game, and nearly 10 yards per pass, as his team went 12-1 last season.
Retzlaff was rated the best junior college quarterback in this cycle, and 46th overall junior college prospect, according to ESPN.
After BYU brought in Slovis last month, the expectation was BYU would add another quarterback before the transfer cycle was over. Even if Slovis was the presumed starter, the quarterback room remained inexperienced outside of the former USC and Pitt transfer. The addition of Retzlaff gives BYU more breathing room heading into the Big 12 to have multiple experienced options at the most important position.
In the immediate sense, Retzlaff could both push Slovis for the job and be a strong backup in the event BYU needs another quarterback to come and navigate a Big 12 game — something that was a big question before Retzlaff’s addition.
History has shown the program tends to need multiple quarterbacks each season due to injuries. Slovis has an injury history himself.
Last year alone, BYU used three quarterbacks in Hall, Jacob Conover and Maiava-Peters. However, because of how inexperienced Conover and Maiava-Peters were, there was a notable drop off in production and trust when either of those players came in. Also, Hall played through injury the entire month of October when BYU did not truly have a proven second option.
Retzlaff could alleviate some of that, theoretically, even if he doesn’t have proven experience at the Power Five level.
Retzlaff’s addition also gives BYU breathing room for the long-term outlook at the position.
He comes in with the added benefit of having multiple years of eligibility remaining and could bring some continuity to the room. Slovis is a one-year rental and after him BYU will be looking for another quarterback again.
BYU could bring Retzlaff along in-house and have some stability at that position heading into the 2024 season, if Retzlaff becomes the presumed starter. Traditionally, BYU has not opted to bring in outside candidates to start immediately (like Slovis). Retzlaff would allow BYU to get back to its typical model.
If that is the plan, the Cougars would also have more time to mold the younger players coming in like Burton. Offensive coordinator Aaron Roderick admitted that Burton is further away from truly competing for the job right now because his high school scheme was much different than what BYU runs.