From now until BYU opens its 2021 football season in Las Vegas against Arizona on Sept. 4, the leading storyline surrounding the Cougars will be who replaces Zach Wilson at quarterback.
Whether it’s Jaren Hall, Baylor Romney or Jacob Conover, the speculation is expected to run rampant.
Pro Football Focus’ Anthony Treash gave an endorsement for Hall, naming the redshirt sophomore one of his 11 breakout candidates this season from small-school programs, i.e. non-Power Five schools.
Could Jaren Hall be Zach Wilson’s successor?
“Hall is set to receive the impossible task of replacing BYU legend Zach Wilson, who last season earned the highest single-season PFF grade ever given to a non-Power Five quarterback,” Treash wrote.
Hall last played in 2019, starting two games that year before getting hurt in his last game action, against Utah State that year. He left the game against the Aggies late in the first half with a concussion and BYU ahead 21-7. Hall completed 12 of 16 passes for 214 yards and rushed for 54 yards and two touchdowns on seven carries before leaving the game in an eventual 42-14 Cougar victory.
“He showcased toughness, athleticism, arm strength and an ability to play on the move, all things coaches desire at the quarterback position, ultimately earning a 77.3 PFF grade across 55 dropbacks,” Treash wrote.
For his career, Hall has played 144 snaps, and concussion issues plagued him during the 2019 season. Even in glimpses, though, the dual-threat Hall showed some playmaking abilities. In seven games during the 2019 season, he completed 67% of his passes for 420 yards and a touchdown while running for 139 yards on a 4.79 yards-per-attempt average, with three touchdown carries.
Will it be enough to hold off Romney, the sophomore who’s also had his share of experience filling in for other injured quarterbacks at BYU, or the freshman Conover, a much hyped four-star recruit out of Arizona?
BYU offensive coordinator Aaron Roderick spoke strongly about Hall’s abilities during the team’s media day last month.
“The times that we’ve seen Jaren play he’s played about as good as any BYU quarterback,” Roderick said. “... If he’s able to (stay healthy), he’s going to be tough to beat out.”
What are the expectations for Hall this season?
If Hall, a Maple Mountain High product, ultimately wins the job, Treash laid out what he will need to do to help BYU from taking a big step back after an 11-1 season, led by Wilson, the No. 2 overall pick to the New York Jets in this year’s NFL draft.
“Hall is unlikely to replicate the level of production Wilson provided. Still, he certainly has the talent to rank among the nation’s top non-Power Five quarterbacks and hold off the kind of debilitating regression that will threaten this BYU program,” Treash wrote. “The only thing he needs to do is avoid injury and play the season from start to finish, something he has struggled with in the past.”