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New BYU QB says he wants to be the starter ‘very badly’

Gerry Bohanon, who transferred from South Florida, is in a tight battle for the starting spot with junior Jake Retzlaff.

Baylor quarterback Gerry Bohanon (11) scores a touchdown past Kansas State linebacker Da'Quan Patton (5) and defensive back AJ Parker (12) during the second half of an NCAA college football game in Manhattan, Kan., Saturday, Oct. 5, 2019. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)

Provo • BYU has 10 quarterbacks on the spring football roster. One more and the Cougars could field a whole team. In that fictional scenario, junior Jake Retzlaff joked that freshman Noah Lugo would play center.

In all seriousness, though, Retzlaff has a competition to win against only one of those QBs as BYU prepares for its second season in the Big 12.

After the first day of spring practices Thursday, it seemed like Retzlaff, a returning starter, and transfer Gerry Bohanon were frontrunners for the starting spot.

“He and Jake, they have a really good thing going right now,” coach Kalani Sitake said. “I’m happy with it. Right now, the competition is really tough and we need all the best players we can have.”

Retzlaff, who played at Riverside City College before transferring to BYU, started the last four games in 2023 after Kedon Slovis was sidelined with an injury. Theoretically, he would have incumbent status going into 2024.

But the Cougars picked up Bohanon for a reason. Despite not playing football at all for South Florida last year while he recovered from shoulder surgery, Bohanon has played a lot of high-level football in his career. He led the Baylor Bears to a Sugar Bowl victory in 2022.

Bohanon connected on two long passes with freshman tight end Ryner Swanson and freshman wide receiver Weston Covey during the roughly 20 minutes reporters were allowed to watch BYU practice. He said he wants to be the starting quarterback “very badly.”

“We train for this our entire lives,” Bohanon said. “As a kid growing up, you want to be a college quarterback. You want to make it to the NFL, be an NFL quarterback. It’s just about the small goals and the small things to get you there. We all want to be in this position. We have to be good and be comfortable taking everything that comes with it — the good and the bad.”

(Bethany Baker | The Salt Lake Tribune) Brigham Young Cougars quarterback Jake Retzlaff (12) looks to pass the ball against the Oklahoma Sooners at LaVell Edwards Stadium in Provo on Saturday, Nov. 18, 2023.

Retzlaff and Bohanon each said their relationship with the other was developing well on and off the field. Retzlaff said they already had inside jokes on Day 2 of being teammates. Bohanon said they’re finding ways to “help each other as much as we can.”

When asked how he felt about the team bringing in transfers to compete for the top quarterback spot, Retzlaff said he took it well.

“That’s the world we live in, right?” Retzlaff said. “If you’re not competing, then what are you doing? Iron sharpens iron. That’s the way I look at it.”

He added that he is not worried about “outside things” relating to competing for the job.

Sitake touted the experience of both of his top quarterbacks, adding that other QBs performed well Thursday. Aside from Retzlaff and Bohanon, sophomores Treyson Bourguet and Cade Fennigan got reps during media viewing time.

Sitake did not give a timeline for when he wants to name a starting quarterback.

“I’d like to have a starter as soon as we can,” Sitake said. “But the competition is all depending on who steps out and who does the most to get the spot. It’s not going to be handed to them. Somebody has to earn it.”