Departing junior quarterback Jaren Hall is leaving a unique legacy at BYU that ranges from his race to his conquests to his humanity.

Not only is Hall the first African American to start at quarterback in program history, but he also defeated more P5 opponents (seven) than any of his predecessors, including names like McMahon, Young, Bosco and Detmer.

Of his 51 touchdown passes over the last two seasons, some were used to defeat No. 21 Utah for the first time in 10 attempts. Others were were darts that pierced the likes of No. 9 Baylor, USC, Virginia, Stanford, Washington State, No. 19 Arizona State, Arizona and Boise State.

Hall may have built his legacy with his right arm, but he solidified it when he threw both arms around his kicker as BYU celebrated a 26-20 double-overtime victory against Baylor on Sept. 10.

Jake Oldroyd was so reliable that fans renamed him “Jake the Make.” He went through the 2020 season converting all 13 field goal attempts and finished runner-up for the Lou Groza Award as the nation’s best kicker.

But this night wasn’t his night.

With the score tied at 20, Hall drove the Cougars to the Baylor 18-yard line to set up a chip shot — by Oldroyd standards — to win the game and upset the defending Big 12 champions.

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Oldroyd trotted onto the field with 13 seconds left to attempt a 35-yard field goal. The snap was clean, and the hold was good, but the kick sailed to the left and the battle went into overtime.

A few minutes later, Oldroyd was sent back onto the field to attempt a 37-yard field goal to win the game. Again, the snap and the hold were perfect, but his kick was left again, and the crowd stood stunned as the game limped into a second overtime.

Hall responded with a touchdown drive to give the Cougars a 26-20 lead and as the defense took the field to preserve it, the quarterback went looking for his wounded kicker and knelt next to him.

Together they watched their teammates fight to keep Baylor at bay and when the Bears’ final pass attempt sailed out of the back of the end zone, instead of storming the field with everybody else, Hall stood up and threw his arms around Oldroyd in a bear hug for the ages.

The ESPN cameras switched back and forth from the wild celebration to Hall and Oldroyd locked in an embrace on the sideline. This is the moment where Hall became an NFL quarterback — a leader — different from the others. 

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Following the Baylor game, No. 12 BYU was roughed up at Oregon and, with an injury to Hall’s right shoulder, the Cougars failed to win in the month of October. But he played on and as his health returned, so did Hall’s NFL-caliber throws — and the winning.

Hall led the Cougars to victories at Boise State and Stanford and a home win against Utah Tech — which proved to be his final game at LaVell Edwards Stadium. He missed the New Mexico Bowl with a high ankle sprain, but he was on the sideline supporting his guys to the very end.

Of those that went before him at BYU, Jim McMahon is remembered for breaking 75 NCAA records, Steve Young for his running prowess (he was a pioneer ahead of Hall and Taysom Hill), Robbie Bosco for the national championship and Ty Detmer for winning the Heisman Trophy.

It’s hard to say where Hall fits among the greats or whether he will make it in the NFL. Teams will spend the next several months dissecting his football IQ, his athletic prowess and most of all, his throwing ability.

There is plenty of evidence that he can win games with his right arm, and as Oldroyd will attest, there is also proof that Hall can comfort a teammate in a crisis when he uses both.

He leaves a unique legacy at BYU where future quarterbacks can learn from his performance — on and off the field.

Dave McCann is a contributor to the Deseret News and is the studio host for “BYU Sports Nation Game Day,” “The Post Game Show,” “After Further Review,” and play-by-play announcer for BYUtv. He is also co-host of “Y’s Guys” at ysguys.com. 

BYU’s quarterback Jaren Hall, right, congratulates wide receiver Keanu Hill after catching a touchdown pass during game against Wyoming Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022, in Provo, Utah. | Rick Bowmer, Associated Press