BYU’s sports information department and head football coach Kalani Sitake put on a “BYU Media Appreciation Golf Tournament” Monday at Cedar Hills Golf Club in lieu of the annual football media day — obsolete now because the Cougars are in the Big 12 — but it was the football players who stole the show.

In particular, new quarterback Kedon Slovis showed what he can do, winning one of the long drive contests with a mighty wallop on the 10th hole.

“We got eight guys who could start at most programs in the country. We got a bunch of good new players, and then depth-wise, as a unit, it is probably the best line I have ever been around.” — New BYU QB Kedon Slovis on the offensive line

“That was a first for me, winning a long drive,” said Slovis, the fifth-year QB who began his career at USC before transferring to Pitt, and now BYU. “I really haven’t played much, either. So this summer has been a lot more golf, and it has been a lot of fun.”

How far did it travel in Utah’s thin air?

“About 340 yards, somewhere around there,” Slovis said. “Altitude makes a big difference, I do want to say that. If I am playing in Arizona (his home state), no chance. Maybe 300.”

Slovis and his team of receivers Kody Epps and Chase Roberts and offensive lineman Connor Pay showed up too late after an early morning workout to complete all 18 holes, but were 10-under-par through 10 holes in the scramble format before they were called in for lunch and interviews.

“We probably would have won this thing,” Pay said.

For the record, the team consisting of the Deseret News’ Dick Harmon, ABC4’s Wesley Ruff and Mike Stansfield and Randy Dodson from Fairways Magazine won with a 13-under 58. Sitake’s team, which included new defensive coordinator Jay Hill, shot a 59 to take second place but wasn’t eligible to win prizes.

The brainchild of BYU sports information directors Brett Pyne and Kenny Cox, and their staff, the event was deemed a success by Sitake, who said he hopes it becomes an annual tradition.

Slovis said he’s played more golf the past two months with his new teammates than he has played his entire life, and that was music to Sitake’s ears as he tries to built camaraderie and his preferred culture with a group that will include nearly 50 newcomers when all is said and done.

“They just want to do everything together. The players played golf a couple weeks back. They all got dressed up for it. … I heard the golf sucked, but they looked the part, and they looked like they were having fun,” he said.

“I just like seeing these guys hang out together. It doesn’t matter what they are doing. … You should see how they hang out in the locker room together, how they hang out in meetings. And it has been really cool.

“This is a really close team, and they really don’t need me to do it. So that’s a good sign where the head coach and the coaches aren’t around and you can trust these guys to bond closer together. They just come up with some cool ideas on things to do.”

Last weekend, the offensive players went to St. George for some golf, workouts and other team-building exercises, Slovis said.

“I love the summers here. It is super nice. It is going to get hot, but like it has been pretty nice for the most part,” said the Scottsdale, Arizona, native. “We have done a lot of team-building stuff. … We lift in the morning, and we are done and we have the rest of the day and it is like, ‘all right, what are we doing next? Are we playing volleyball, or shooting hoops?”

Sitake said he’s been impressed with Slovis’ leadership ability, and noted that QB1 is organizing player-run practices and other activities although he’s only been in Provo for about six months.

“That’s what you want to see from your starting quarterback,” Sitake said.

Slovis credited Sitake and offensive coordinator Aaron Roderick for naming him the starter after spring camp, saying that gives him credibility with his teammates.

“It is nice to be named the starter,” he said. “You can kind of assume that role. It is not like you are splitting reps, or sharing that responsibility. So I appreciate the coaches giving me the opportunity to conduct PRPs during the summer.”

Slovis said he handles the skill position players on offense, while linemen such as transfers Caleb Etienne (Oklahoma State), Paul Maile (Utah) and returning starter Pay make sure the offensive line is coming together.

Regarding that unit, Slovis had high praise.

“We got eight guys who could start at most programs in the country,” he said. “We got a bunch of good new players, and then depth-wise, as a unit, it is probably the best line I have ever been around.”

Related
Kalani Sitake’s team edges Kyle Whittingham’s team in annual charity scramble golf tournament at Hidden Valley Country Club
Inside four-star recruit Ryner Swanson’s recent commitment to BYU

Epps, the receiver who entered the transfer portal on May 1 and then decided to withdraw from the portal and return to BYU on May 3, said he has received nothing but love and support from his coaches and teammates since that stunning development. Epps said the talk of incredible team bonding through golf and other activities is real.

The new transfers “have implemented themselves so well to the group, and gelled so well with the group, it has been seamless,” Epps said. “It seems like these dudes have been here for five years. … Summer time can be a drag. But when you are doing it with guys you love, it makes it a lot easier.”

Epps concurred with Pay that the football player foursome would have won, and also that Slovis is quite the golfer.

“He can swing it pretty well,” Epps said.

View Comments

So can receivers coach and passing game coordinator Fesi Sitake, apparently.

He won the other longest drive hole, despite playing from the blue tees when everyone else was playing from the white tees.

New linebackers coach Justin Ena, graduate assistant Gavin Fowler and fan experience coordinator Cameron Call won the closest-to-the-pin contests and Peter Tuipulotu won the “closest-to-the-golf-bag” contest on the first hole and won that golf bag.

A team from the Daily Universe took last place and won whiffle balls for the effort.

Join the Conversation
Looking for comments?
Find comments in their new home! Click the buttons at the top or within the article to view them — or use the button below for quick access.