PROVO — Former BYU quarterback Max Hall was a senior when Riley Nelson joined the program as a sophomore in 2009.
At the time, Nelson had recently returned home from an LDS mission, during which he decided to transfer from Utah State. That season, Nelson backed up Hall, and appeared in seven games.
Then in 2010, Nelson battled for the starting job with prep All-American Jake Heaps, and he also battled a shoulder injury.
Hall is not surprised that despite the twists and turns in Nelson's career, the Logan native has emerged as BYU's clear-cut starter in 2012.
"He should have been the starter in the first place, in my opinion," Hall told the Deseret News on BYU's Alumni Day, the final day of spring drills. "He overcame the adversity that came with not being the starter. He stuck in there and kept working hard and good things happened for him. He deserves it. He's a great kid, a hard worker, and he's a competitor. If anything, he'll compete and give it everything he has. That's what I like about him."
During the recently completed spring practices, Nelson received the majority of reps in practice for the first time in his collegiate career.
"The biggest thing that Riley needed was just reps," Hall said. "By the time I was a senior, I had had a gazillion million reps. He hasn't had as many. This offseason will be big for him in getting those reps. "
During that final practice of the spring, Nelson sought Hall's help in becoming a better quarterback.
"The stuff we talked about had to do with mechanical things, his release and his footwork," Hall said. "I'm just kind of helping him with what I know. I think he's doing a fantastic job."32 comments on this story
"Max is almost like a coach. They should pay him for being out here," Nelson joked.
As for BYU, much of its offensive success this season will hinge on Nelson's ability to lead and make plays.
Coach Bronco Mendenhall never tires of talking about the way Nelson leads his team. And he's happy with Nelson's improved accuracy in throwing the ball.