I’m not in any rush, just seeing what comes along, and I’ll see what happens in the next few months. —Ty Detmer
HIGHLAND — It’s been 30 years since I teed it up on a golf course with Ty Detmer.
So much has changed, but he’s still the same guy I watched almost drive No. 8 at East Bay Golf Course in Provo when he was a college freshman.
Detmer still hits a long rolling draw with his 50-gram stiff-shafted Nike Vapor driver. And he’s got skills all over the course with this game he’s loved all his life. He might have a gray hair or two, but he’s still got the grin, dry humor and ultra-competitive mindset. He’ll become a grandfather in November. What’s different from 1988 to today is that the 1990 Heisman winner can’t go anywhere without requests for photos, selfies and handshakes, a fame he cannot hide.
This was the scene Monday at Alpine Country Club at the Utah chapter of the annual National Football Hall of Fame Golf Tournament. Other members of our foursome included Detmer’s partner in QB Elite, Dustin Smith, and his brother Nate, both former Skyline High athletes.
Most of these golf encounters are off-the-record, just-for-fun excursions, but some of our chatter this time made it on the record, including a discussion of BYU quarterbacks and the Cougars’ latest verbal commitment from Arizona four-star prospect Jacob Conover.
It was Detmer who officially offered Chandler High’s Conover a scholarship this past year. “I remember Conover being very scrappy and he had an edge to him,” said Detmer. “Also, he brought his own seven-on-seven playbook to the BYU camp. I don’t remember very many guys who did that.”
Conover had offers from Alabama and Arizona State but committed to BYU over the weekend.
Both Detmer and Smith are acquainted with current BYU freshmen QBs Zach Wilson and Jaren Hall, who are expected to push Tanner Mangum, Joe Critchlow and Beau Hoge this fall. Smith, who has worked with Wilson, has most recently worked out with Hall, who is fresh off an LDS Church mission.
On the first tee, a tee box host asked Detmer who he was with the customary handshake. A few seconds later, she came back and said, “Now, sorry, again, who are you?”
That cracked Smith up. It reminded him of a football camp a few years ago with Detmer when a 13-year-old came up to the two of them and asked Detmer to take his picture with Smith. “I never let Ty forget it,” said Smith.
Generally, Detmer cannot find anonymity, especially in Utah.
On our fourth hole, the group behind us drove up, saw Detmer and a guy yelled out, “Hey, so you guys have a ringer in your group, eh?”
Detmer deadpanned, “Got nothing else to do.”
When groups got backed up a few holes later, a guy left his cart, said he always wanted to meet Detmer and shook his hand.
Detmer and his wife Kim plan on moving from Mapleton to Scottsdale, Arizona, in June. His wife’s family lives in Scottsdale and according to Detmer, she would like to be closer.
Detmer is being paid by BYU through December and said he isn’t in any hurry to find permanent work. He has been in contact with friends in the NFL, including Kansas City Chiefs head coach Andy Reid. “I’m not in any rush, just seeing what comes along, and I’ll see what happens in the next few months. I have a few hunts on the ranch to host, some in November.”
Wilson and Hall will give BYU an interesting rookie punch during fall camp, according to Detmer and Smith, whose QB Elite training camp staff includes NFL QBs Kurt Warner, Mark Brunell and Brandon Doman.
“I think those BYU freshmen would be successful and ultimately start at any school in the country,” declared Smith. “They are that good. The battle between them will be fun to watch.”
Smith has had Wilson in camps before and most recently has had five private workout sessions with Hall.
Detmer said one huge advantage college quarterbacks will have this year is the NCAA now allowing full-time coaches like Aaron Roderick to have skill development sessions several times a week with the QBs.
“That wasn’t allowed before this summer. That is huge. Otherwise, you don’t get enough time with them,” said Detmer. “It will make a big difference in teaching them what they need to know and in their development.”
Smith predicted Wilson and Hall will be pushed hard for the first time in their careers at BYU because generally they’ve been "the guy" in high school and easily won competition for their starting jobs. “Also, for the first time, they’ll be concentrating on just football full time instead of playing other sports. That will make a huge difference in tapping into their abilities and stretching what they can do.
“Both of them have very good arms,” said Smith. “Jaren has the ability to extend plays with his feet, and he looks to move to pass. He’s not a guy that’s going to pull it down and just run to be running, he looks to make a play.
"Zach also has very good speed. Jaren can really move and has a real innate ability. Pushing each other will bring out the best in both,” Smith continued. “We’ll see a part of them that nobody’s seen before. I think BYU hit the jackpot with these two. I only hope one or the other doesn’t get too jumpy and transfers down the road because they will be very good.”
Hall, said Smith, is further along physically coming off missionary service than he thought he would be.
Conover, the recent pledge to BYU, will play his senior season at Chandler, graduate early, go on missionary service, and likely compete in 2021.