BYU fans are salivating over new four-star QB commit Jacob Conover, but BYU's recent luck with highly touted quarterbacks makes us wonder: How much do these four- or five-star quarterbacks really contribute on the field?
This isn't to diminish anybody's record in high school. Those who earn those coveted stars certainly deserve the recognition. But for the Cougars in particular, stars in recruiting haven't always translated to stars on the field.
This list includes all the QBs who made it onto at least one of these three main recruiting rankings: Rivals.com, ESPN.com and 247 Sports. Note that none of these recruiting services gave stars to BYU players before 2002, which is why many of the all-time greats are not on this list.
Without further ado, here's a look at how BYU's quarterbacks have performed from the 2002 class on based on their number of recruiting stars:
Ben Olson: The only five-star QB BYU had commit was Olson, but he didn't end up playing for the Cougars. Olson transferred to UCLA, where his career was plagued with injuries. His 2008 season ended before it began as he broke his foot twice during the offseason. Olson would end up with 1,843 yards and 12 touchdowns with 11 interceptions over three seasons.
Jake Heaps: Heaps is the poster child for a quarterback who couldn't live up to the hype. While he was a Parade All-American and the No. 1 pro-style QB of his recruiting class, he did not live up to the potential everyone saw in him. Over two seasons in Provo, Heaps threw for 3,768 yards and 24 touchdowns with 17 interceptions. Heaps would transfer from BYU to Kansas and finally to Miami. Heaps made only 12 pass attempts with the Hurricanes. However, Heaps has found a home on NFL practice squads.
Tanner Mangum: The jury is still out on Mangum. On the one hand, he did throw two Hail Mary passes to beat Nebraska and Boise State as a freshman, taking over for the injured Taysom Hill. His 2015 stats are impressive with 3,377 yards passing with 23 touchdowns and 10 picks. However, Mangum was sidelined by Hill's return in 2016 and by injury in 2017. Before his injury last season, Mangum had just 1,540 yards and just nine touchdowns against eight interceptions in eight games played. It's certainly possible for Mangum to have a breakout year, but only time will tell.
Jason Beck: Beck played a grand total of one game in 2004 and became John Beck's backup in 2006. He would leave Provo with 553 yards passing and just four touchdowns with one interception.
Jacob Bower: Bower had two redshirt seasons at BYU before transferring to Bakersfield Community College, Tulsa and finally McNeese State. Bower was beat out by 2-star QB Max Hall for the starting job, and the rest is history.
James Lark: Lark's career at BYU wasn't exactly smooth. He had to take a medical redshirt as a freshman before heading off on a mission. After the mission he was primarily a backup. It would take Lark six years to start a game from the time he was recruited in 2006, and it was against lowly New Mexico. Lark made the most of this opportunity as he threw six touchdown passes in a 50-14 rout of the Lobos.
Jason Munns: Munns gets credit for four games played on his official BYU profile, but that's it. There's not a single other stat to his name.
Cade Cooper: Yet another BYU signee who never took the field while in Provo. It wasn't long before he transferred to Oregon and finally to SUU. Still, Cooper found some success with the Thunderbirds as he threw for 2,998 yards as a senior.
Kody Wilstead: Yet another young QB who is transferring before taking the field. Sensing a pattern here? Wilstead is leaving for Coffeyville Community College in Kansas this season.
Jaren Hall: Hall just returned from an LDS mission to Roseville, California, and will compete for a spot on the depth chart this fall.
Taysom Hill: Hill just might be the best QB on this list if only he could stay healthy. Hill is best known for his utter domination of Texas not once but twice. He would finish his BYU career with 6,929 passing yards, 2,815 rushing yards, 75 touchdowns and 31 interceptions. The injury bug bit Hill hard though during his time in Provo, and one has to wonder what might have been had he just been able to stay on the field. He found his way to the Saints last season, where he made his mark on special teams.
Billy Green (2-star Rivals): Green recorded one game played before transferring to Weber State. He played one year with the Wildcats where he did reasonably well with 2,055 yards and 11 touchdowns in his sophomore year. Then he abruptly left the football team.
Beau Hoge (2-star Rivals): Hoge seemed to be just getting into a rhythm for BYU last season before he too was lost for the year due to injury. The fact that Mangum as a four-star isn't the automatic starter over Hoge says a lot.
Max Hall: Hall remains more successful that any five- or four-star recruit BYU has ever had. He's BYU's winningest quarterback with 32 wins out of 39 games. He is by far the most prolific passer on this list with 11,365 yards and 94 touchdowns with 40 interceptions. While several quarterbacks on this list had more hype, nobody has lived up to this mere two-star's record.
Riley Nelson: While Nelson wasn't given stars when he transferred to BYU, he was a two-star QB when he first committed to Utah State. Cougar fans have mixed feelings about Nelson as he managed only 2,011 yards and 13 touchdowns with 13 interceptions as a senior through 10 games before he went down to injury. Still, it can no longer be said that 2012 was the darkest year for BYU offensively since LaVell Edwards came to Provo after last season's profound offensive woes.
Sam Doman: Doman transferred from BYU to Oregon in 2007. The only stat he recorded while with the Ducks was one game played.
Alex Kuresa: Kuresa had four catches as a wide receiver while at BYU, but he soon transferred away from BYU to Snow College and finally Portland State. He thrived with the Vikings as he passed for 4,112 yards passing, 1,613 yards rushing and 46 total touchdowns over two seasons.
Kai Nacua: Yes, Nacua is listed as a QB on recruiting sites. Instead of throwing the ball for BYU, Nacua learned to disrupt other quarterbacks as he left Provo with 14 picks. Perhaps his time under center helped him get into the minds of his opponents
Joe Critchlow: Critchlow was called upon sooner than anyone thought last season with the massive QB attrition rate. Critchlow was the QB as the Cougar offense limped to the end with 642 yards and four touchdowns with three interceptions. He was sacked seven times against lowly UMass.
Koy Detmer Jr.: Detmer was one of several QBs to see action with the mounting injuries last season, and it sure wasn't pretty. In a disastrous loss to Utah State, Detmer completed just seven of his 20 passing attempts and threw three interceptions. Detmer is transferring to Texas A&M-Kingsville.
Bottom line: A common thread through all of this is that BYU has had a lot of quarterbacks transfer across all star rankings. Out of the 20 QBs on this list, nine of them finished their college football careers somewhere else.
Really, there's only two college stars on this list: three-star Taysom Hill and two-star Max Hall. Yes, there's still time for folks like Tanner Mangum to make his name. However, all of this goes to show that stars in high school don't always make stars at the next level.
So before we all get too excited about any particular recruit, perhaps we should just wait and see before proclaiming anybody as the next great BYU quarterback. After all, we've made that mistake before.
Correction: A previous version incorrectly stated Koy Detmer transferred from BYU to Texas A&M. He transferred to Texas A&M-Kingsville.