How transfer quarterback Kedon Slovis became a celebrity in Provo, without playing in a game yet
BYU’s new QB has attended church services, invited receivers to work out in offseason, and even accepted a vintage Beatles album
Graduate transfer Kedon Slovis has been in Provo for less than four months, but the former USC and Pitt quarterback has already had his share of interesting and heartwarming interactions with fans, he said last week when the Cougars’ 15 spring football practices wrapped up.
“It is definitely felt, the support of the fans, and I know (quarterback) is a special position here, for sure. You look down the hallway or in the lobby and you see all those jerseys and the names, it is pretty storied program with a lot of storied, great quarterbacks. So it is an honor to be a part of it.” — New BYU QB Kedon Slovis
“The fact that people know who I am even though I haven’t even taken a snap yet is pretty surreal to me,” Slovis said in an end-of-spring-camp interview with media members who cover BYU football.
Slovis’ predecessors in one of the marquee positions in all of Beehive State sports — guys such as Max Hall, Riley Nelson, Taysom Hill, Tanner Mangum, Zach Wilson and Jaren Hall — have all talked about it within the past 15 years as the internet age has made them larger than life in Utah County and beyond.
There’s nothing quite like being the starting quarterback at BYU in the fishbowl of Provo, they have said.
And now Slovis, who was named the starting QB for the Cougars’ first season in the Big 12 this fall by offensive coordinator Aaron Roderick last Friday, is feeling it, hearing it and seeing it firsthand.
One of those interactions came after the alumni game on March 31, when a fan approached him and gave him a vintage album from The Beatles. Apparently, the fan had seen an interview Slovis gave a few years ago in which the Scottsdale, Arizona, product mentioned he collected vinyl records.
“Yeah, that was a welcome to BYU moment, probably,” Slovis said. “I don’t have a big collection. It is not, like, huge. It is a minor, minor hobby of mine. That’s all it is. I don’t know what to ask for (at) Christmas, so I will ask for that, right?”
Even in the NIL era, Slovis isn’t sure if he is allowed to keep it — or what it is worth.
“It is still in my locker,” he said. “But it is like, all tattered and stuff. The guy said, ‘I saw the interview, and I want to give it to you.’ So I will have to do something for him. I will probably sign a helmet and give it to him.”
Having called Provo and BYU a “weird place” on the “Momentum Truck” podcast a few years ago after his USC team was upset 30-27 in overtime by Wilson-led BYU, Slovis was directly shown the kindness that he had once made fun of.
“I was like, ‘Hey man, this is the most thoughtful gift anyone has ever given me,’” he said. “I wasn’t expecting to get it at the spring game and not give any gifts in return. So that was pretty wild, yeah.”
Since signing with BYU last December after three years at USC and one at Pitt, Slovis has chatted with several of the aforementioned QBs who have played the position in Provo to get an idea of what it will be like. And he’s been getting private workouts with another former BYU quarterback, John Beck, at Beck’s 3DQB academy in Southern California.
“We haven’t played any games yet, but you can just feel it. Like, after the alumni game, I was waiting to talk to John, and he was signing autographs for hours and hours,” Slovis said. “Obviously, he is a stud out here (after playing for BYU from 2003-06) and they still remember him. So you can see the importance and prominence of that position and how much fans love and respect it.”
Slovis, who graduated from USC with a bachelor’s degree in communications, is doing postgraduate work at BYU. He said he has already felt the love from his fellow students as he walks around campus.
“It is definitely felt, the support of the fans, and I know (quarterback) is a special position here, for sure,” he said. “You look down the hallway or in the (football offices) lobby and you see all those jerseys and the names, it is pretty storied program with a lot of storied, great quarterbacks. So it is an honor to be a part of it.”
Teammates and coaches raved throughout spring camp about Slovis’ leadership ability, all while being impressed with his ability to fit in and not feel entitled. When he was asked midway through camp if it was already apparent that he should be the starter this fall, he deferred to the coaches.
“That is probably a question for them,” he said. “I always see myself (as QB1), but I don’t want to say anything before they want to say something. I would ask them, I guess. Sorry.”
Although he is not a member and says he did not have a religious upbringing, Slovis has already attended at least two meetings of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The first was to hear receiver Chase Roberts teach a priesthood lesson, telling The Salt Lake Tribune afterward: “Everyone in church knew who I was and I’d never been there before.”
Backup tight end Ethan Erickson said Slovis has the impressive ability to make everyone around him feel included and important.
“I think the biggest thing that stands out is his personality. He is just such a fun guy, a goofy guy. Everyone loves him and he loves everybody. He is easy to be around,” Erickson said. “I think that really transfers on the field. There is almost immediate trust.”
But can he play? Absolutely, said Erickson, who ran a lot with the ones in spring camp because starting tight end Isaac Rex is still a bit limited due to offseason surgery to clean up some scar tissue from that awful injury he suffered in 2021 against USC.
“He throws some dimes. He throws a good ball. So it is easy to just get along with him and see him as that ultimate leader and put him in that leadership position that we need,” Erickson said. “He came in at full stride. I don’t think at any point he has held us back whatsoever. He has propelled all of us, and it is unbelievable that he has learned the offense this fast. He is such a smart guy, and he gives a lot of positive reinforcement. I love him 100%. I am excited for him to be with us.”
Slovis said the preparation for 2023 won’t slow down just because spring camp has concluded. The Cougars emerged from camp with Slovis as the clearcut starter and junior college transfer Jake Retzlaff battling with returner Cade Fennegan to be the backup.
“I feel pretty good about how camp went,” Slovis said. “I thought we executed well. We just gotta keep building on it, though. We are not a finished product yet. That’s what the rest of summer and fall camp is for.”
Slovis said he will continue to work with Beck in SoCal and will try to get as many receivers and tight ends down there to work out with him and Rex — whose wife recently had a baby — to 3DQB as well.
“I want to emphasize that I feel really good about (the current receivers and tight ends),” but we gotta have more than three guys we feel comfortable with going into this season,” he said.
Slovis has also taken it upon himself to “kinda put some feelers out” to receivers in the transfer portal to see if they have any interest in BYU.
Roderick said that is just another sign that the two-time transfer has found a home — at least for a year — in Provo.
“I wasn’t surprised about (Slovis’ ability to fit in) because I had heard great things about him before I met him. And then once I got to know him I could see he had those qualities,” Roderick said. “That wasn’t surprising. I think I was more surprised with how much he loves it here. I was hoping he would love it here. But it is pretty obvious he is enjoying his time and loves it in Provo.”
Weirdness and all.