BYU quarterbacks coach Aaron Roderick mentioned during Wednesday’s teleconference that his email inbox still has a lot of messages he received during the summer about how junior Zach Wilson shouldn’t be the starting quarterback for the 2020 season.
You’ve got to guess that most of those folks probably feel differently now.
After all, all Wilson has done is lead the Cougars to an 8-0 start and a No. 8 ranking in both major polls while putting himself both in conversations about the Heisman Trophy and first-round draft picks.
“I talked to just about every team in the NFL (about Wilson) during the bye week last week,” Roderick said. “They make their own decisions about his play. That’s their job. They’ve got scouts and evaluators and they’re good at what they do. Most of those guys are asking me questions about what it’s like to work with him.”
Lost in all of the hype and attention Wilson has earned is the value of the quarterbacks who have pushed him to be the best he can be, particularly guys like sophomores Baylor Romney and Jaren Hall.
“They’ve both been a big part of this success of our team because both of them played well last year when they got their opportunity,” Roderick said. “Baylor helped us win some games that nobody thought we would win and Jaren played well in his opportunities but just had a little trouble staying healthy. What that did was it created competition and I think just raised the level of everybody’s playing, Zach included.”
BYU offensive coordinator Jeff Grimes described having capable players behind Wilson as being like an insurance policy.
“It’s like having insurance on your car and you don’t have an accident for a year and you say, well, you know I spent all that money on that insurance and it didn’t pay off for me that year,” Grimes said. “But it sure paid off for us last year. Quite frankly their value has been more to us coach as a security blanket. It’s been a little bit more about how good we’ve felt as coaches knowing that we have other guys that can go in the game and and play.”
Romney has established himself as the next man up and Roderick is confident the sophomore is prepared to lead BYU to victory if he is called on.
“Baylor’s played well in games this year when he’s gotten his opportunity and I have no doubts about putting him in anytime we need him,” Roderick said. “He’ll go in and be ready to do the job. We have a lot a lot of faith in him because he is a really good player.”
Hall is still battling injuries and Roderick said the team might not have him back in action for the rest of 2020.
“We just decided that he’s had enough issues,” Roderick said. “Going back and forth between two sports I think has been really taxing on his body. We’ve just decided to just give him time to actually get his body right because Jaren is a really good player and we have a lot of faith in him as a football player. He just needs to get healthy and so that’s what we’ve allowed him to do. He’s still here every day is around us but he’s working through some things physically.”
Behind Romney and Hall are freshmen Sol-Jay Maiava-Peters and Jacob Conover, both of whom could end up being stars in their own right according to Roderick.
“The COVID situation was unfortunate in many ways and it cut Conover’s mission short but we were able to maneuver some things roster-wise and fit him in this fall,” Roderick said. “He’s been able to get a whole bunch of bonus reps. He’s an impressive guy. He’s learned our whole offense already. He was highly recruited player and it doesn’t take long to see why.
“Sol-Jay is progressing as well. He’s a really exciting player, a super athlete. He’s got a playmaking flair I would say who can do things with the ball that probably nobody else on our team can do. He’s learning and he’s getting better in the passing game every day. So we’ve got a good group and I’m excited about it going forward.”