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Tanner Mangum and Zach Wilson named finalists for BYU starting QB job

Zach Wilson and Tanner Mangum are the finalist for the BYU starting quarterback job.
Zach Wilson and Tanner Mangum are the finalist for the BYU starting quarterback job.
Deseret News

PROVO — And then there were just two.

The BYU quarterback battle, which seemed to consist of about one-fourth of the entire roster out of spring practices, has been whittled down to just two players about three weeks out from the season-opener versus Arizona.

BYU offensive coordinator Jeff Grimes announced after Monday's practice session that the two finalists for the position are senior Tanner Mangum and true freshman Zach Wilson.

"We feel that Tanner and Zach right now are the two guys we're going to concentrate our reps on," Grimes said. "Those two have been neck-and-neck since the day that we started, and they've outperformed all the other guys, so those are the two guys who will be pretty much getting all the reps with the (first team) and most of the reps with the (second team.)"

Mangum, a senior out of Eagle, Idaho, is the most experienced QB on the Cougars’ roster with 5,158 yards with 34 TDs and 20 interceptions since he was thrust onto the scene filling in for an injured Taysom Hill in 2015.

Wilson, a freshman out of Draper, threw for 2,986 yards and 24 touchdowns during his senior season at Corner Canyon in 2017.

THIRD IN LINE: While the news of Mangum and Wilson as the two finalists in the QB derby was anticipated, news regarding who will lock down the third spot perhaps wasn't.

Fresh off his LDS Church mission service to Roseville, California, Jaren Hall is a legitimate contender for the third spot, along with Joe Critchlow.

"Jaren Hall has positioned himself to compete with Joe for the third spot," Grimes confirmed. "I think (Jaren) has done some really nice things, and so has Joe. (Critchlow's) just really been outperformed by (Mangum and Wilson.)"

Critchlow is a 6-foot-4 sophomore out of Tennessee who threw for 642 yards and four touchdowns last season. Hall is a 6-1 true freshman out of Maple Mountain High School.

As to how Critchlow, who was considered a legitimate contender for the starting role at the outset of fall camp, took the news, quarterbacks coach Aaron Roderick said, "He took it like a pro … there's no quit in that kid," while mentioning the sophomore quarterback has made a habit of exceeding expectations and doing the best with the position he's been given.

BEST WISHES TO BERNARD: Utah made it official earlier on Monday that former BYU linebacker Francis Bernard will be joining the Utes for this fall. Bernard is a Herriman product who starred at linebacker for the Cougars throughout the 2016 season before announcing intentions to transfer right before the 2017 season.

"I'm happy for Francis," said BYU coach Kalani Sitake. "It's an opportunity for him to get a degree and to play for some great coaches. So I'm real excited for him and for his future."