While the BYU football team prepares for the present, former Cougar quarterback Max Hall, the winningest quarterback in school history, is busy molding the future.

Enoch Watson is a 6-foot-3 quarterback at ALA Queen Creek High in Arizona, where Hall is the offensive coordinator and former Cougar quarterback and 1990 Heisman Trophy winner Ty Detmer is the head coach. Watson committed to BYU in June, following in the footsteps of his older brother Pierson, who signed as a linebacker in 2022 before leaving on a church mission. Watson also plans on serving a mission.

“I’ve been really impressed with him. I think BYU is getting a great kid and a great quarterback,” Hall told the “Y’s Guys” podcast. “Right away when he came in, he was able to gain the trust of his teammates and we knew he was a humble and hard-working kid — and then I watched him throw for the first time and I’m like, ‘This kid is talented.’

Nate Watson’s employment brought the family from Flagstaff to Queen Creek and his son enrolled at ALA. Early this week, the senior posted video clips on social media of him easily throwing 60-yard passes.

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“If he can put all this together, I’ve got a special player here. I’m looking forward to what he does this season and I’m looking forward to what he can do at BYU,” Hall said. “I think he has the size, talent, skill set and leadership ability to really be something special at the next level. My job this year is to get him ready for that.”

During their respective BYU careers, Hall and Detmer combined for 26,393 passing yards and 215 touchdowns — enormous shoes for Watson to try to fill in the future.

“I’ll get him ready. Don’t worry about that,” Hall said. “I’ll get him ready.”

Hall met with Cougars tight end coach Steve Clark over the summer to discuss different formations and protections he can use at ALA Queen Creek to offset a smaller offensive line. Clark was a graduate assistant at BYU when Hall won his school-record 32 games.

“I was really happy after my meeting there. I think I got some really good schemes to help us out in that area and let Enoch do his thing,” he said. “He is going to get to run some of BYU’s stuff this year in preparation.”

Hall on practice

The first week of fall practice was a time Hall lived for at BYU.

“I was excited, giddy, I had butterflies, everything that goes with that because football was starting,” he said. “I loved the smell of the grass. I love it all. I was a guy who loved practice.”

BYU won’t put on full pads until Monday, but Hall is a firm believer that every moment in camp matters.

“I tried to take advantage of it every day,” he said. “Day 1 was all about ‘How are we going to set the tone? What’s our vision for the season? We made it through summer workouts and now let’s start putting it into action.’”

Hall on Slovis

Former USC and Pittsburgh quarterback Kedon Slovis transferred to BYU in January and participated in spring practice. He takes the reins of the program with 34 starts against Power Five programs.

“He knows what to do. He knows what it takes,” Hall said. “I think the biggest thing for him is to get his teammates to love and trust him. He must take ownership of the team. He’s got to do more than what’s required of him in practice. At the end of the day, it’s his show.”

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Hall’s sophomore season in 2006 was highlighted by wins against TCU, Utah and UCLA. As a junior, he beat Washington and UCLA (59-0). His senior year included victories against No. 3 Oklahoma, No. 21 Utah and No. 18 Oregon State.

“Coach (Brandon) Doman used to say, ‘Max, you are the last line of defense out there. We can prepare you and call the play, but in the moment, it’s you,’” Hall said. “Kedon has to do more than get himself prepared. He’s got to get the whole team ready to play.”

Hall on expectations

Out-of-town expectations for BYU in the Big 12 range from minimal to moderate successes. Conference media tabbed the Cougars No. 11 among the 14 teams. Hall believes with the right mindset the Cougars will turn a lot of heads.  

“I think they need to play like they have nothing to lose. They can’t make it a bigger moment than what it already is,” he said. “They need to fight and prove that they belong and have an attitude like, ‘We are not here to roll over and be in the bottom half of this league. We are here to win this league.’ That needs to be the attitude. If we go in with that kind of confidence, I think we have the team and the talent to win a lot of these games.”

A helmet is pictured on the grass after BYU football practice at Brigham Young University in Provo on Tuesday, Aug. 1, 2023. | Spenser Heaps, Deseret News

Dave McCann is a contributor to the Deseret News and is the studio host for “BYU Sports Nation Game Day,” “The Post Game Show,” “After Further Review,” and play-by-play announcer for BYUtv. He is also co-host of “Y’s Guys” at ysguys.com.