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Baylor Romney heroics in upset of Boise State stirs memories from his high school coach

BYU quarterback Baylor Romney stood up and performed and may yet just go back to being third-string. But his heroics are part of BYU lore now.

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Brigham Young Cougars quarterback Baylor Romney is congratulated following a touchdown pass against the Boise State Broncos during NCAA football in Provo on Saturday, Oct. 19, 2019.

Ravell Call, Deseret News

BYU freshman Baylor Romney’s heroics in last weekend’s upset win over No. 14 Boise State quickly became part of the historic quarterback lore that is part of the school’s football tradition.

Walkon quarterback gets his first start, throws two touchdown passes, makes Jim McMahon-like escape throws out of the pocket and stuns the Broncos in LaVell Edwards Stadium.

Romney may have earned a start against Utah State in BYU’s next game in Logan against Utah State, or he may return to his role as QB3 behind Jaren Hall, who replaced starter Zach Wilson after the loss at Toledo.

Few, if any, expect Romney will start again if Hall is ready to go. But that doesn’t mean he can’t be saluted, his role in a big win celebrated.

“That is what Baylor does. He sees a job he’s asked to do and does it.” — Mark Torres, on Baylor Romney

Romney is good. His performance can be filed in a proven and valuable file. It’s labeled “Taking care of business/doing his job.”

Former Franklin High School (El Paso, Texas) offensive coordinator Mark Torres knows this Romney trait very well. He witnessed it all the time at Franklin where Romney finished his senior year in 2014 with a district championship, 3,000 yards passing, 29 touchdown passes, just three interceptions, a 70% completion percentage and 884 rushing yards for 10 touchdowns.

Torres remembers Franklin playing highly ranked San Angelo Central on the road at a neutral site. The weather was bizarre, just like it was in the BYU-Boise State game — with high winds, cold temperatures and a little rain. 

“I remember the last touchdown he threw, we didn’t have enough protection, our blockers were out-numbered and he was going to get hit. He knew he was going to take a shot right under the chin, and he did, but he also knew he had a job to do, to get the pass off. He did and was hit, but his pass ended up going 90 yards for a touchdown,” said Torres.

“That is what Baylor does. He sees a job he’s asked to do and does it.”

Romney may be labeled a walkon at BYU, but he did sign to play at Nevada. When coaches left for Hawaii, he then looked at opportunities at Hawaii, Utah, Arizona State and BYU, where his younger brother Gunner signed while he was on a mission to Carlsbad, California. So far at BYU, Baylor Romney has led the scout team and then was named backup to Hall as QB2 when Wilson went down.

If anything, Romney’s emergence speaks well of BYU’s QB depth with experienced Joe Critchlow also in the mix. All of BYU’s quarterbacks, evidenced by Romney’s performance against South Florida and his first start in a win over Boise State, could be starters.

Torres, who also taught Romney’s wife in his health class at Franklin, says the No. 1 thing about Romney is his character. “That is No. 1. He is a person of the highest character. He is mature beyond his years.

“I remember him coming in as a skinny, undersized freshman, with a squeaky little voice, but he threw one of the most beautiful spirals you ever saw,” said Torres.  “In spring his freshman year every time a defensive lineman would break into the backfield he would just fall down. He is a guy who leads by example. That was my first impression of Baylor. His parents did a great job raising him and instilling in him great leadership and a sense of responsibility.”

When Baylor went on his LDS mission for two years, he frequently sent emails to Torres, giving him updates on his life and experiences. “He was only allowed to work out an hour each day and he’d tell me what he was trying to do to keep in shape. That is how dedicated and how serious he was about what he had to do and what he could do.”

Torres was sitting in his house watching the South Florida game when Romney went in for the injured Hall. He was standing and yelling and was so excited to see Romney get a chance to show what he could do.

Again, on Saturday, knowing Romney would start against Boise State, Torres watched the entire game and his daughter kept commenting on how excited he was yelling and screaming at the plays Romney was making. Torres was so into it, he kept texting Romney about what was going on, what he was doing, commenting on the plays.

“I was holding my newborn daughter and when I would get excited my wife would get on me to not wake her up,” said the coach.

“The next day, Sunday, Baylor responded to every one of my texts.”

A group of former BYU quarterbacks has already accepted Romney as one of their own and some of them compare his game to a Ty Detmer or former Boise State star Kellen Moore.  While he does not have the arm strength of Wilson or Hall, he finds a way to put the ball in tough places and just make plays.

On Saturday, Romney’s numbers were solid at 15 of 26 completions for 221 yards, two touchdowns and no turnovers. His pass efficiency rating of 154.5 was impressive. Using a more aggressive game plan that called for targeting tight end Matt Bushman more than the past few games, Bushman received national honors for his five catches for 101 yards and two touchdowns.

The irony of BYU’s QB situation is this: the Cougars have playmakers at that position. One could say they are as deep as any time since Tom Young replaced Ryan Hancock, who replaced Steve Clements who took over for starter John Walsh in the early ’90s.

If Hall returns to battle Wilson, Romney will slip back to QB3.

Or not.

The BYU QB pecking order was set and decided on practices.

Now there are game results on record and Romney has a pretty good piece of evidence as a gamer. He is 1-0 in starts. He is 21 of 36 for 294 yards, two TDs, a 58% completion rate and a 145.3 efficiency rating.

One of his biggest supporters, Torres, is behind his guy.

“I’ll be there in the stadium when he plays in a bowl game and I’ll be there for him in a future Super Bowl if he ever makes it,” said Torres.