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BYU’s Sol-Jay Maiava-Peters Took Advantage Of Starting QB Opportunity

Dec 18, 2022, 11:58 AM
Sol-Jay Maiava-Peters, BYU Football, New Mexico Bowl...
BYU football quarterback Sol-Jay Maiava-Peters won New Mexico Bowl Offensive MVP, helping the Cougars take down SMU 24-23. (Photo by Sam Wasson/Getty Images)
(Photo by Sam Wasson/Getty Images)

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Sol-Jay Maiava-Peters, represents the wild nature of the 2022 BYU football season.

From fourth-string quarterback to New Mexico Bowl Offensive MVP.

As the kids say, “It was like a movie.”

From fourth-string QB to NM Bowl MVP

A former three-star recruit that had attention on the recruiting trail as an 8th grader from Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh, Maiava-Peters was trending up in BYU’s quarterback room. BYU offensive coordinator Aaron Roderick said last spring that Maiava was one of the most improved players in the QB room.

But no one expected the dual-threat Maiava to play in a game in 2022. It was more of a mental note for down the road in the Big 12 era.

That wasn’t bad, considering BYU had Jaren Hall starting and former four-star Jacob Conover backing him up.

When he signed with BYU, many outside voices felt he was best suited to move to another position. Roderick continued to keep him at quarterback. Maiava has watched how Zach Wilson and Jaren Hall operated at the position since he arrived.

During BYU’s struggles this season, Maiava wasn’t even suited up in his uniform walking off the field in practices. Instead, he was in a hoodie and sweats, carrying the offensive play cards.

Sol-Jay Maiava-Peters showed off his athleticism in the win

Then fast forward to a cold December night in the Land of Enchantment to see him lead a BYU offense to a bowl victory. Very few had that on their bingo cards this season.

Even at the New Mexico Bowl, Sitake was willing to have Roderick change the QBs if needed. Cade Fennegan had heavy black tape wrapped around his ankles but was available. Then walk-on Nick Billoups was also in the mix.

But Roderick stuck with Maiava, who played from start to finish—helping BYU secure a 24-23 New Mexico Bowl win over SMU to close out the Independence era.

“I kind of hinted that we had three guys we felt comfortable playing. I think A-Rod went with the hot hand, and Sol-Jay did a great job playing the game. But we felt really good with all three of those guys’ preparation,” said BYU coach Kalani Sitake.

Maiava joined Tom Young in the 1992 Aloha Bowl as only the second BYU football quarterback to get his first career start in a bowl game.

Instantly, Maiava showed his ability to run. Against the nation’s 121st-ranked rush defense, wise decision to go with Maiava.

The former Polynesian Bowl MVP finished with 96 rushing yards on 14 carries and a touchdown in his first career start.

One of Maiava’s runs included a 3rd & 12 that he picked up with his feet.

On the passing side, it was what you would expect from a fourth-string quarterback. He finished 7-of-12 for 47 yards and had an interception right to the defender. But he got the job done on the offensive side. That was all BYU needed. It also helped that BYU’s defense stepped up with a pick-six and a game-winning stop on SMU’s two-point attempt.

“Like Kalani says, it’s complimentary football,” said Maiava. “So I just had faith in the defense, said a little prayer. … Then I watched the play, and J-Rob (Jakob Robinson) made the play. I just felt comfort; I guess you could say. That’s when everybody was turning up, and I just pointed to the sky and said, ‘thank you, Heavenly Father.'”

What’s next for Sol-Jay Maiava-Peters?

After the win, Maiava was crowned the Offensive New Mexico Bowl MVP by the assembled media that was in attendance.

Moments after he accepted the MVP award, he limped off and quietly went up into the stands with his family to take photos and embrace the moment.

What does this performance mean for Maiava, a third-year freshman with three years of eligibility remaining as BYU moves into the Big 12?

Jaren Hall hasn’t made it official, but the line of thought is that the fifth-year quarterback will move on to the NFL. So that leaves an opening at QB1 for BYU in year one of the Big 12 era.

“For me, my mentality is still the same. I’m in the back,” said Maiava after the New Mexico Bowl. “Because I know I’m still going to have to fight in the offseason for the job. We’ve got a lot of people coming in, so I’ve got to keep my head humble, for sure.”

Mitch Harper is a BYU Insider for KSLsports.com and host of the Cougar Tracks Podcast (SUBSCRIBE) and Cougar Sports Saturday (Saturday from 12–3 p.m.) on KSL Newsradio. Follow Mitch’s coverage of BYU moving to the Big 12 Conference on Twitter: @Mitch_Harper.

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BYU’s Sol-Jay Maiava-Peters Took Advantage Of Starting QB Opportunity