PROVO — BYU quarterbacks coach Aaron Roderick could have been describing any of the quarterbacks he currently coaches, along with at least two others who will soon enter the Cougar program.
And that's exactly the point.
"He's a super athlete," Roderick said during BYU media day. "I don't want to overstate it, but he's one of the better athletes in our program. He's a guy who could start for us at other positions, but he's a good passer, and a smart guy, and I really liked him in high school."
So which quarterback was Roderick referencing?
Zach Wilson? Jaren Hall? Soon-to-be Cougar Sol-Jay Maiava, who is currently committed to the program? Maybe it was former Pleasant Grove QB Jake Jensen, who recently accepted a walk-on spot to play quarterback?
Turns out Roderick's words were describing Baylor Romney, although he was quick to point out that he could have been describing any of them.
"We're starting to develop a theme," Roderick said. "Zach, Jaren, Baylor and some of the guys I can't mention, because we're recruiting them — they're all similar guys with similar attributes."
The reason for recruiting similar athletes at the position would seem obvious.
During Roderick's first season as part of BYU's new offensive staff, the decision was to first go with Tanner Mangum with a somewhat traditional drop-back and run-heavy offense. It changed, to some degree, when the staff opted for Wilson as the starting quarterback midseason. The offense took off as a result.
"With these QBs, we just want to plug them in, and they go. That's the idea," Roderick said.
Fans became well-aware of Wilson's abilities last season as a sort of dual-threat option capable of throwing and running for big chunks of yardage. As for Hall, he showed similar abilities throughout his high school career playing for Maple Mountain and throughout practice sessions dating back to the 2018 fall practice session where he beat out Joe Critchlow for the third-string spot.
As for Jensen (6-foot-2, 210 pounds), he showed similar qualities to that of Wilson throughout his prep career and will join the program upon completing his church mission. And then there's Maiava (6-0, 190) from the Washington, D.C., area, who recently committed to BYU right before being named as an Elite 11 quarterback finalist.
"We're excited about all these guys and their abilities," Roderick said. "We feel they can all come in and fit in well with what we do."108 comments on this story
Figuring out what exactly those quarterbacks, and the offense as a whole, can do was a process — one that didn't always yield great success throughout the 2018 season (although that's often the case in any system's initial season). Now that it's been sorted out to a large degree, both players and coaches are understandably optimistic for what's ahead.
"We're obviously a lot farther along this time around than we were at this time last year," said BYU receivers coach Fesi Sitake. "Players understand the system and we feel like we can take that next step. We've been able to sort a lot of things out after we all were new to the program last season. So we're all excited about the strides we feel we can make while still knowing there's still a ton of work that needs to be done."