Gerry Bohanon can’t recall any specific pitch made by the BYU Cougars’ coaching staff, which is somewhat remarkable.

Today’s college football landscape is replete with extravagant NIL deals, promises of playing time, and anything and everything in between in order to bring in top talent.

And BYU isn’t all that different — with the caveat that attracting a proven transfer portal quarterback was of the highest priority for coach Kalani Sitake and his staff heading into the offseason.

“We watch(ed) film and I even remember some of the same terminology and everything. … I think we all saw it as a good fit. … I felt like it was perfect.” — Gerry Bohanon on his official recruiting visit to BYU

But whatever pitch was made by Cougar coaches certainly wasn’t easy to recall for Bohanon, if one even was made to begin with.

“I really never felt like there was a pitch,” Bohanon said in an interview conducted on ESPN960 shortly after his transfer was made public. “Everything spoke for itself … and everybody just enjoyed being around one another, which is something I want to be a part of.”

So what did BYU present to the former four-star prospect from Earle, Arkansas? 

The 6-foot-3, 226-pound dual-threat quarterback undoubtedly encountered some of the more impressive pitches during the recruitment process. According to the 24/7 Sports Network, he chose Baylor over the likes of Alabama, Georgia, LSU and Notre Dame.

But for Bohanon — considering what he’s been through over the past six seasons — specific aspects of BYU stood supreme.

A perfect fit

Upon arriving at BYU for his official visit along with his mother, Juanita, Bohanon pored over game film with the coaching staff to see how he’d fit within offensive coordinator Aaron Roderick’s system.

Bohanon grew excited about what he saw.

“It’s all what I did at Baylor at a high level,” he said. “I enjoyed it and I was very comfortable doing it. It was natural to me, so I know it will be a good fit playing in it again. … I mean, we watch(ed) film and I even remember some of the same terminology and everything. … I think we all saw it as a good fit. … I felt like it was perfect.”

What he did at Baylor is notable.

Bohanon took the starting reins for the Bears for the 2021 season and finished with 2,200 yards passing, 18 touchdowns against seven interceptions and a passing percentage of 63. He also used his superior athleticism to his advantage, rushing for 323 yards and nine touchdowns in helping Baylor to a 12-2 record and a 21-7 win over Ole Miss in the Sugar Bowl.

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BYU fans may recall Bohanon leading Baylor to a resounding 38-24 win over the Cougars that season. 

He did it all under the tutelage of offensive coordinator Jeff Grimes, who left BYU for Baylor prior to the 2021 season before Grimes opted to start Blake Shapen the following season, causing Bohanon to transfer to South Florida.

Given the framework set up by Grimes at Baylor, and considering the precepts of that same offense remaining at BYU, Bohanon believes he can hit the ground running. He’s already in Provo and is prepared to receive a full set of reps during spring practice.

“I want to come in and be myself,” Bohanon said. “I want to learn from the guys as much as I can and just absorb and take in as much as I can from every coach up there. … I’m going to be the same guy every day and go and compete at everything I do. Hopefully I can encourage and uplift the guys and just get better … and get ready to compete … and uplift one another.”

Ability to compete

Things haven’t exactly gone according to plan for Bohanon since completing what was a very promising 2021 season for Baylor.

South Florida quarterback Gerry Bohanon is hit by BYU defensive lineman Tyler Batty during a game Saturday, Sept. 3, 2022, in Tampa, Fla. The former Baylor and South Florida QB is now a BYU Cougar. | Jason Behnken, Associated Press

South Florida struggled in 2022, but the Bulls were competitive when Bohanon was healthy against ranked foes, suffering one-score losses to a ranked Florida team (31-28) and a ranked Cincinnati team (28-24). Bohanon lasted just the first half of the season after incurring a torn labrum on his throwing shoulder.

Bohanon recalls an arduous and extensive recovery process that tested his resolve.

“It was up and down, but mainly down,” he said of the rehabilitation process. “I rehabbed for a year — hopeful that I could get back and play a season (at USF) — a full season, but God had other plans.”

Blessed with superior athleticism and a live arm, Bohanon suddenly found himself grinding out even the simplest of athletic feats early on during his rehabilitation process.

“You go through being able to make every throw in the world to where it hurts to even throw a tennis ball,” Bohanon said. “Everything felt so heavy and was so hard to throw. ... But now I’m back to myself. I feel like myself again. I work out and can make every throw that I was making before I had the surgery.”

When coaches would ask Bohanon how his recovery went, he gave no pitch. He simply asked for the opportunity to show what he could do.

BYU coaches took Bohanon up on his offer and determined he was well worth whatever risk was associated with his yearlong rehabilitation process.

It’s an opportunity Bohanon relishes, relying on his faith in God throughout what was the toughest period of his life.

“It was a bittersweet process,” Bohanon said. “I learned a lot about myself. It caused me to sit down, sit back and reflect on the things that I had been through in this game. And it caused me to not take it for granted. … There’s light at the end of the tunnel. You might not see it, but you have to trust it.”

Representing the Y

Bohanon comes to Provo with no affiliation with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, nor any other family or social ties to the program.

But despite the relative unfamiliarity, it’s the social and religious aspects of BYU that ultimately made the decision for Bohanon to join the Cougars program, as much as any other factor.

“The history and what BYU and what it means to Provo, and what it means to the world, and what it means to the coaches that are there,” Bohanon said. “Everyone takes pride in that logo, and so I want to be a part of that.”

Bohanon also made what he termed instant connections with BYU players such as offensive lineman Caleb Etienne, receivers Kody Epps and Keelan Marion, and tight end Keanu Hill, among others.

“I’ve been smiling since my visit,” Bohanon said. “I’ve been so, so happy to get the opportunity to be a part of that program. It’s an amazing program with amazing people, so I’m going to represent them in the best way that I know (I) can.”

South Florida quarterback Gerry Bohanon (11) celebrates with teammates after scoring a touchdown against Tulane Saturday, Oct. 15, 2022, in Tampa, Fla. Bohanon, who landed at BYU via the transfer portal, will be among the QBs competing for the starting job in Provo when the Cougars open spring drills. | Chris O’Meara, Associated Press