On Sunday, Jaren Hall will become the third former BYU quarterback to start an NFL game in the past three seasons.
The Utah native who prepped at Maple Mountain High was thrust into the starting role after Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins tore his Achilles in the fourth quarter of a 24-10 win last week over the Green Bay Packers.
Now, the 25-year-old rookie is the center of attention this week as the Vikings attempt to win a fourth straight game — they play at the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday.
Hall, a fifth-round draft pick who started the season as the team’s QB3 before a back injury landed backup Nick Mullens on injured reserve last month, is confident in his ability to run the game plan.
“You’ve got to have the mindset you can run it all. I don’t think we’ll hold anything back,” Hall told reporters Wednesday. “But again, it’s just a matter of if I can be dialed in on my preparation and take advantage of every minute.”
Hall credited his coaches and teammates for helping prepare him for his first start just nine games into his career. With Minnesota trading for veteran quarterback Josh Dobbs earlier this week, and Mullens eligible to come off IR as early as Week 10, there’s the possibility Hall’s time in the starting lineup could be short-lived.
“I think that it’s very easy to go down that path and start thinking about that, but lucky for me, coaches are constantly reminding me just to focus on this day, focus on walk-through, this practice, this install — whatever it is,” Hall said.
“It’s a long career in the NFL, it’s a marathon, a journey, so you can’t look at one game or one opportunity like it’s your last. For me, I’m really just focused on being as prepared for these guys because they grinded so much the last few weeks and come back from so much adversity that I just want to do my best and focus on this game.”
Hall took his first regular-season snaps when he replaced an injured Cousins in the fourth quarter against the Packers.
In that brief appearance that included 11 snaps, Hall completed 3 of 4 passes for 23 yards and converted a third down that forced the Packers to take their final two timeouts, but he also was strip-sacked inside the Minnesota 20.
Hall said those reps last week didn’t necessarily help prepare him for getting that first start — mainly because the approach has to be you’re always one snap away from contributing, so preparing like that is the case is key.
In recent weeks, Hall has been receiving additional practice reps and facing the Minnesota starting defense with Mullens on IR.
“It’s always the same approach, you always try to be prepared as if you’re going to play,” Hall said. “Now it’s just understanding your role is a little bit bigger so you’ve got to take a little more urgency to it, spend more time with the coaches and be great at answering questions and make sure I’m getting the information that I need. Just look forward to taking it day by day.”
Hall has also taken the opportunities to learn from Cousins, the veteran who has quarterbacked Minnesota since 2018 and was off to his best statistical season as a Viking before the season-ending injury.
“Kirk is always the most prepared guy on the field. For me, it’s watching how studious he is in his preparation,” Hall said.
2 BYU products will start this week at QB in the NFL
With Cousins in Minnesota in the final year of his contract, this year was expected to be a learning season on the bench for Hall, but injuries — as they often do — changed those plans.
The same can be said for the other former BYU quarterback who will be starting this week, the New York Jets’ Zach Wilson. The Jets host the Los Angeles Chargers on Monday night.
Wilson, in his third NFL season, was expected to back up quarterback Aaron Rodgers this season and learn from the All-Pro, but an injury four snaps into the year changed that and made the embattled Wilson the starter again in New York.
Strangely enough, both Wilson and Hall were thrust into the starting lineup when their veteran counterparts suffered the same injury, a torn Achilles.
Historical significance of BYU quarterbacks starting in the NFL
Hall will become the 11th former BYU quarterback to start a game in the NFL.
This weekend will be the first time that two former BYU players start at quarterback since Week 18 of the 2021 season, when Wilson was a rookie starter for New York and Taysom Hill started five games at QB for the New Orleans Saints at the end of the year.
Hill has since moved back to his all-purpose usage in New Orleans.
Prior to that weekend in 2021, it had been 22 years since two BYU quarterbacks had started the same week in the NFL.
In Week 1 of the 1999 season, Steve Young, the most accomplished former BYU QB in the NFL, started for the San Francisco 49ers in his final pro season, while Ty Detmer started for the Cleveland Browns.