Now that recent college graduate Baylor Romney, BYU’s primary backup quarterback the past three seasons, has officially announced he has accepted a job working for Adobe and won’t be playing for the Cougars or anybody else in 2022, the question has to be asked.

Is BYU going to be OK at the marquee position if presumptive starter Jaren Hall can’t play in every game, for one reason or another? Hall has been outstanding when he’s on the field, but has also sustained more than his share of season-ending injuries.

The Cougars suddenly look young and inexperienced in the quarterbacks room beyond Hall, who will be a fifth-year junior and was the Pro Football Network All-Independent Quarterback of the Year in 2021 and also made several All-Independent First-Team Offense lists.

Why losing Baylor Romney is nothing to take lightly

BYU offensive coordinator Aaron Roderick acknowledged the Cougars had some interest in former Corner Canyon star Jaxson Dart, the USC transfer, but that was because Dart was a “difference-maker” who had interest in BYU before signing with the Trojans. Now he’s at Ole Miss.

“Our (philosophy) is we are always open to adding a big-time talent, at any position,” Roderick said. “I think it is wise. You are seeing a lot of teams who leave one or two spots open on their roster, who leave one or two scholarships available, just in case you get a chance at a difference-maker.”

“Those guys are good players. Jaccob Conover has been in the program a couple of years now, and Cade Fennegan has been here since last summer. So those two guys know the offense well and they are both going to get reps this spring.” — BYU offensive coordinator Aaron Roderick on the backup quarterback battle

Speaking to the Deseret News a couple weeks ago — before Romney announced last Monday in a LinkedIn post that he will be a business development representative for the software company — Roderick, who is also quarterbacks coach, said coaches were not actively combing the transfer portal in hopes of finding an experienced backup.

Obviously, receiver Puka Nacua fit that bill last season, moving from Washington to BYU and quickly becoming one of Hall’s go-to guys, along with Neil Pau’u, Gunner Romney and Samson Nacua, his brother. 

Head coach Kalani Sitake said during signing day that the Cougars have a few scholarships available, and could have more after spring practices end in late March and the usual attrition takes place.

“I just think you gotta always be open to that,” Roderick said. “So, that is how we will operate. We try to fill all of our immediate needs, and then leave a spot or two for impact players that can help us score points.”

BYU already landed two running backs out of the transfer portal, Cal’s Christopher Brooks and Stanford’s Houston Heimuli (who is more of a fullback). What about a quarterback?

That’s probably not in the cards at this juncture. Who would want to use up his NCAA-allowed one-time transfer just to back up a returning, successful starter? 

Former BYU QB Baylor Romney announces his next career move
BYU offensive coordinator Aaron Roderick dishes on this year’s prospects and last year’s successes and failures

Left in the room are Jacob Conover, Sol-Jay Maiava-Peters, Nick Billoups and Cade Fennegan, the Boise State transfer.

Conover saw action in just two games last year, against Utah State and Idaho State. He went 5 of 9 for 45 yards to help beat the Aggies 34-20 in Logan when he replaced an injured Baylor Romney in the second half.

Fennegan appeared in three games for the Broncos in 2020, making his college debut at Air Force and rushing two times for three yards. BYU fans probably remember his second outing, when he came on in relief against the Cougars and completed 15 of 26 passes for 182 yards and two touchdowns, with one interception, in BYU’s 51-17 walloping on Nov. 6, 2020.

Maiava-Peters appeared in three games in 2020, his freshman year, but did not attempt a pass. He didn’t appear in any games last year. Billoups is a walk-on from San Clemente, California, who began his career at Utah as a quarterback, then switched to safety.

Roderick said he’s confident that all four can develop into good quarterbacks.

“Those guys are good players. Conover has been in the program a couple of years now, and Fennegan has been here since last summer. So those two guys know the offense well and they are both going to get reps this spring,” Roderick said.

Like Conover, Maiava-Peters was highly recruited out of high school — St. John’s College High School in Washington, D.C. — but just hasn’t found his niche yet at BYU. 

“Sol-Jay is a different type of player than those guys, but he has been here long enough that my trust in him is growing and I believe we could definitely win games with him,” Roderick said. “The offense would look a little bit different, but he’s a good player.”

In short, the backup quarterback battle begins on Feb. 28, and probably won’t be settled until midway through fall camp in August.

“W are going to give those guys a lot of reps this spring,” Roderick said. “We know enough about Jaren now. We need to develop who the No. 2 guy is, who the No. 3 guy is, and go from there.

“I think all those guys have a chance. And so I am excited to see how that battle plays out.”