A little more than seven years ago, former BYU and NFL defensive back Derwin “Dewey” Gray introduced local hotshot prep quarterback Jaren Hall at the Cougars’ 2016 Signing Day news conference with a video presentation and predicted that Hall would join the “new generation” of mobile quarterbacks in the NFL such as Russell Wilson and Dak Prescott.

“And there are several teams that I have talked to twice, and even one team I have talked to three times about him. So I am keeping that one close to the vest. Yeah, it is comparable to what I went through with Zach (Wilson) two years ago.” — BYU OC and QBs coach Aaron Roderick

Later this week, the good pastor of the Transformation Church in South Carolina, and Deseret News contributor, should prove to be prophetic, as the 6-foot-1, 205-pound married father of one — daughter Jayda — is expected to be taken in the 2023 NFL draft, which begins Thursday in Kansas City and runs through Saturday.

Exactly which round Hall will be taken in remains to be seen and is somewhat of a mystery, as draft experts have him going anywhere between late third round to late seventh round. Few other prospective QBs in this QB-heavy draft are all over draft boards as much as Hall is.

Some so-called experts even have him getting bypassed completely and having to go the free agent route, a turn of events that would shock one of Hall’s primary coaches at BYU, offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Aaron Roderick.

“He is going to get drafted, yes,” Roderick said matter-of-factly last week.

Hall took Gray’s words to heart so much that when he got to BYU — after a two-year church mission to Sacramento, California, which is why he is already 25 years old — he ditched the No. 1 jersey he wore at Maple Mountain High and asked for No. 3, the number worn by Wilson.

Gray and Hall’s father, Kalin, were BYU teammates in 1992, the defensive back’s final year in the program and the running back’s first, then formed a longtime friendship as Gray embarked on an NFL career before becoming a well-known author, public speaker and preacher.

Kalin Hall played in the Canadian Football League for a couple years and had some NFL opportunities with Buffalo and San Francisco, but he was injured coming out of BYU in 1993 and was never invited to the combine and “was a little undersized for what teams were looking for out of running backs at the time,” he said.

His son is also a bit undersized by current NFL standards but makes up for it with a strong arm, a sturdy frame and running back-like elusiveness. And now Jaren Hall is getting all kinds of opportunities, realizing a dream that was hatched when he was 8 years old and another of Kalin Hall’s former teammates, Desmond Lomax, was his Pop Warner league coach.

“Dewey has played NFL football and has several friends who are general managers, and he just has an eye for the game,” Kalin Hall said. “He called Jaren another Russell Wilson (currently with the Denver Broncos), but faster. When he made that statement, I was like, you know what? He’s right.”

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After completing 65.2% of his passes and throwing for 6,174 yards and 52 touchdowns, with just 11 interceptions, Jaren Hall declared for the NFL draft on Dec. 23 despite having another year of eligibility. The two-year starter leaves BYU with a career quarterback rating of 156.1.

Since declaring, his life has been a “whirlwind” of training, workouts and meetings with almost every NFL team, he said on BYU’s Pro Day on March 24.

“I mean, it is really busy,” he said last month. “You are focused on football 24-7. It is your life now. There is no more school. Once you step into the world of preparing for the NFL, that is your focus, and I love it.”

Then his life got even busier, if that was possible.

“It is a constant job interview, but it is the only (constant) job interview I would ever want to have,” he said.

Hall told KSL Sports Zone AM two weeks ago that he has had Zoom calls and/or visits with nearly every team in the league.

“I have no idea where I am sitting right now,” he told reporter Mitch Harper. “I have had some good weeks. I have had some not-so-good weeks. And so I am just really trying to make sure that any visits I have with teams, I am showing them who I am as a thinker, as a processor, because all the stuff you have on film, is already there. … As far as my stock value, where I am at and all that, my agent deals with that.”

Which NFL teams are most interested?

Hall did acknowledge that the Indianapolis Colts have been giving him a lot of attention and brought their organization to Provo in early April to work him out, a seemingly odd development considering the Colts have the No. 4 overall pick and are expected to use it on one of the high-profile QBs in the draft such as Alabama’s Bryce Young or Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud.

Others believe the Kansas City Chiefs — coached by former BYU player Andy Reid — are considering using a mid-draft pick on Hall as a backup for NFL MVP QB Patrick Mahomes, a situation that would be optimal for Hall.

One of the more respected mock draft producers in the country, Dane Brugler of The Athletic, has the Chiefs taking Hall with their fourth-round pick on Saturday. That’s No. 122 overall.

“The BYU connection between Andy Reid and Hall is a fun story, but I’m told the Chiefs ‘love’ Hall’s skill set,” Brugler wrote. “Kansas City understands the importance of a backup quarterback, so much that the Chiefs might even make this pick a round earlier.”

Coincidentally, ESPN’s Matt Miller believes the Chiefs will use that pick on Hall’s teammate, offensive tackle Blake Freeland. The only other BYU product with a good chance of hearing his name called this weekend is receiver Puka Nacua. Running back Chris Brooks and cornerback Kaleb Hayes had outstanding performances at BYU’s Pro Day and could theoretically sneak into the seventh round.

BYU’s Roderick told the Deseret News on April 14 that he has spoken to “almost all” of the 32 NFL teams about Hall, but declined to give specifics.

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“And there are several teams that I have talked to twice, and even one team I have talked to three times about him,” Roderick said. “So I am keeping that one close to the vest. Yeah, it is comparable to what I went through with Zach (Wilson) two years ago.”

ESPN draft analyst Jordan Reid told BYUtv’s “BYU Sports Nation” last week that Hall’s status “depends on who you talk to” and that there “really isn’t a consensus” on the QB who was plagued by injuries at BYU.

“I like his fit with the New Orleans Saints, with Derek Carr and Jameis Winston there now,” Reid said. “That’s a good place for him. … The Saints have plenty of offensive weapons.”

Including former BYU quarterback Taysom Hill.

A proud father watches from afar

Former BYU running back Kalin Hall, the father of Jaren Hall, works with the Payson High football team during a practice at the high school Friday, August 16, 2002. | Jason Olson, Deseret News

Throughout the 2022 season as Jaren Hall was leading the Cougars to an 8-5 record, most media members and BYU fans figured it was a no-brainer that the fifth-year player who began his BYU career by redshirting in 2018 and playing for the Cougars’ baseball team in 2019 and 2020 as an outfielder was in his final season.

But it wasn’t that simple.

Kalin Hall said it was “a really tough decision” for Jaren. Two weeks after he led BYU to a 35-26 win over Stanford on Nov. 26, Jaren told his parents — his mother Hollie is a former BYU gymnast — that he was undecided and it caught them by surprise.

“I was taken aback by that,” Kalin said. “Honestly, I didn’t have an opinion one way or the other. “Eventually, it was all their decision.” Jaren married former Utah Valley soccer player Breanna McCarter midway through his BYU career and Jayda was born in the summer of 2021.

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Kalin said his son has handled the hoopla “just phenomenally” since that pre-Christmas announcement four months ago.

“He’s handled it the way he has everything else over the duration of his athletic career and this whole year, with professionalism, with being genuine and authentic,” Kalin said. “He has been pretty relaxed through all of it, in all honesty.”

NFL teams wear out college coaches at this time of year, as Roderick and BYU head coach Kalani Sitake have attested, but rarely if ever contact parents. Kalin said the only contact they’ve had is when a quarterbacks coach called Hollie to get a phone number because he couldn’t get ahold of Jaren.

How would Kalin Hall describe his son if they asked?

“I think he is a natural leader. He is a quiet but fierce competitor,” Kalin said. “He has a will to win that I think is unmatched for someone who doesn’t verbalize those things. He is a team guy first, a tireless worker, and someone who is good for any locker room.”

Jaren Hall became the first Black quarterback to start a game for BYU in 2019 when the Cougars lined up against South Florida.

“He is a selfless person, just generally, and therefore that extends to the leadership qualities that extend through his whole career,” Kalin Hall said. “I mean, I am not saying anything that people who have talked to him haven’t seen. That’s who he is. What you see on the exterior is what is there on the interior.”

Born to be a quarterback

Jaren Hall’s older brother, KJ, played running back for BYU from 2015-17 before injuries curtailed a promising career. Younger brother Kyson is a receiver on this year’s BYU team.

But Jaren has always played quarterback, “from the very first time he put a pair of pads on,” Kalin said.

Back then, Jaren wore No. 18 because that was Peyton Manning’s number. Kalin said his son has always had a great arm, because of baseball.

BYU quarterback Jaren Hall warms his arm up as he tosses the ball during baseball practice at the indoor facility on the BYU campus in Provo on Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2019. | Steve Griffin, Steve Griffin, Deseret News

“He played baseball first and so me being a guy who went through the process of battering linebackers as a running back, I was like, ‘No, I would much rather have him throw the ball. Those guys don’t get hit as much,’” Kalin said. “He hasn’t played any other position ever since.

“Even though some people have said he should be a receiver, or a running back, or blah blah blah, I just told him to stay the course.”

It has paid off.

Along the way, former BYU QB John Beck and Dustin Smith, owner of locally based Quarterback Elite (QBE), and BYU coaches such as Roderick have fine-tuned Hall’s skills to the point where he is one of the most accurate passers in the draft.

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“He is a dual-platform passer, is what he is. He can sit in the pocket and sling it to any place that it needs to go, or he can improvise when necessary,” Kalin said. “I have seen those things over the years, and to be honest with you, there was never any doubt in my mind that he would have the chance to play professional football.”

Like Roderick, Sitake has also fielded lots of calls from NFL personnel about Hall, and he quite frequently brings up traits of which they are already aware.

“Yeah, leadership,” Sitake said. “Great teammate. Not only in the locker room, but also in film study. His football IQ is ridiculous. He is smart, gets the game. I think he will be a great asset to the quarterback room no matter which team takes him.”

What about Hall’s age? While Roderick acknowledges that it is occasionally referenced, it is not as big of a deal for quarterbacks as it is for other positions.

“I think (age) is super overblown because quarterbacks can play into their late 30s in that league and a lot of the guys don’t figure it out until their late 20s,” Roderick said. “You see guys all the time who struggle for a few years, or bounce around the league, then all of a sudden when they get in, or get in the right situation, they do well. It happens all the time.”

Gearing up for the big day(s)

Kalin Hall says the family won’t be glued to the television during the draft, and he and his sons might even go golfing on the day Jaren is likely to be picked — Saturday.

“Most of the time we will probably just hang out at the house, do like we normally do for any family gathering we have,” he said. “It will be pretty chill and laid back.”

“Ultimately, the football stuff is all fine and dandy. But at the end of the day Jaren has been a really good human being. I am just more proud of the young man that he is, and the man that he is becoming, than any athletic accomplishments that he has had over the years, and anything he will have in the future. — Kalin Hall on his son Jaren

Jaren has said he doesn’t “love all the cameras around all the time,” but understands it.

That’s why he wants some privacy this weekend, and time to just spend the draft days with his wife and daughter, parents and siblings.

“It was my family in the beginning that had that plan together to go to the NFL one day, so that is who we want to celebrate it with when the time comes,” he said.

A father’s final message

What is it like for parents to have a son go through the NFL pre-draft process, and see their loved one’s strengths and weaknesses poked and prodded, analyzed and dissected for three to four months?

Kalin has purposefully avoided much of the talk, articles and mock drafts. He’s much more concerned with his Jaren’s progress as a husband and father.

“Ultimately, the football stuff is all fine and dandy. But at the end of the day Jaren has been a really good human being,” he said. “I am just more proud of the young man that he is, and the man that he is becoming, than any athletic accomplishments that he has had over the years, and anything he will have in the future.

“I stand by my son. I have always had the utmost confidence in his abilities. But man, I am just proud of the fact that he hasn’t changed. He hasn’t deviated from the same person that he has been from Day One,” Kalin continued. “And so ultimately those are the things that I believe owners and general managers of franchises will look at along with his athletic prowess and talent, and know that they got a guy that they can genuinely count on through thick and thin, in good times and bad.

“He is not going to turn his back on anyone and is someone that is going to be fighting to the end. That’s the guy that they are getting, and that is the same guy he has always been.”

BYU quarterback Jaren Hall (3) comes off the field after the Cougars’ loss to the Notre Dame Fighting Irish in Las Vegas.
BYU quarterback Jaren Hall (3) comes off the field after the Cougars’ loss to the Notre Dame Fighting Irish at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas on Saturday, Oct. 8, 2022. | Spenser Heaps, Deseret News