PROVO — Delayed action. Deferred status but not forgotten.
Arizona’s Chandler High quarterback Jacob Conover is generally considered the cornerstone of BYU’s 2019 recruiting class even if he signed in December and won’t be around for a while.
Conover accepted a call to serve his church and will not appear on BYU’s roster for two years. He just entered the Mission Training Center this past Tuesday en route to his area of service for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Asuncion, Paraguay. He will, however, be able to get sports updates from home weekly thanks to a new policy that allows texts and phone calls if he chooses.
Conover is gone, but he did leave a resume and some heady commentary from BYU coaches during the national recruit signing day this month. Conover is generally considered to be the winningest QB in Arizona state history, a place that produced the talents of Danny White, Joe Germaine, Max Hall and John Beck, to name a few.
Ty Detmer offered Conover after he attended a camp. Then BYU’s offensive coordinator, Detmer said it impressed him that Conover showed up at the football camp carrying a notebook of plays. “He looked prepared and I can’t remember very many quarterbacks who brought in his own playbook.”
Current coordinator Jeff Grimes said recruiting always starts with the quarterback. “And I’m glad we’re starting with him.”
Grimes heard of Conover the day he replaced Detmer and went to see him play when the Cougars were recruiting his teammate, receiver Gunner Romney. “I saw him in the weight room lifting weights, which is probably not the best place to evaluate.
“He's not an extremely big guy and not the most physically impressive looking guy, but he had a real personality, a real confidence about him. Not braggadocio in any way, but very comfortable in his own skin,” Grimes told BYUtv.
“And so I had an opportunity to come back and watch him practice in the spring and I watched the entire practice. I watched from warm-ups all the way to the very end. I saw him throw individual cuts with receivers against air and seven on seven and one on ones in team segments, about a two-hour practice.
“I never saw him make a bad throw, not one throw was outside the normal catching radius of what you would expect to receive in a catch. I was just really impressed with his accuracy, but even more impressed with his personality and how he related to everybody that was around him.
“Little kids who just happened to be there watching practice would come up and talk to him, parents, his teammates and coaches. Just a great deal of respect for everybody that he spoke with, and a real comfort level. And so I think he's got natural leadership.”
That season Conover, BYU’s only 4-star signee, led Chandler to its third straight title. He had more than 10,000 yards and 102 touchdowns in his career, 38 TDs his senior season. He had offers from Alabama, Arizona State, Arizona, Northwestern, Ole Miss, Oregon State, South Carolina and Washington State.
On February’s signing date, QB coach Aaron Roderick echoed observations by Grimes about Conover’s abilities.
“What I saw was deadly accurate,” said Roderick.
“He has accuracy that is really remarkable and he does it not just when you watch him in practice just throwing against air, but he does it in games when he knows the pass rush is in his face and is forcing him off balance. Even when he doesn’t set his feet, it doesn't matter,” said Roderick.
“He throws accurate passes that people can run with after the catch. You know sometimes just six or eight inches of accuracy can be the difference between getting tackled right there where you catch it or running with the ball for five or 10 more yards. He's one of those guys who has a feel for where to put the ball for his receivers.”60 comments on this story
Roderick said he saw at least one of Conover’s games in person and Grimes attended another. “I then saw him in practice and on film. I’ve watched every game he’s played for the last two years.”
Roderick said Conover reminds him of some of the quarterbacks who have played at BYU over the years with his playmaking, like Max Hall. “You know how competitive Max was and how great of a leader he was, and he has the accuracy of John Beck. I’m not saying he is going to be as good as those guys, but he is up there with those guys in Arizona history and what he’s done in high school.”
Conover: One of those BYU signees who is on the board at least six years, even when he does not play.