BYU Football Names Backup Quarterback To Close Out Fall Camp

Aug 22, 2023, 3:20 PM | Updated: Aug 23, 2023, 10:30 am

PROVO, Utah – BYU football enters its first year in the Big 12 with Kedon Slovis as the starting quarterback. It was the first time since 2019 there was zero debate about who would be BYU’s QB1.

So naturally, at a place that prides itself on quarterback play, the question entering fall camp was centered around the backup spot.

On the final day of fall camp, BYU offensive coordinator Aaron Roderick named the No. 2 signal-caller.

Jake Retzlaff earns BYU backup quarterback spot

Junior college transfer Jake Retzlaff will be the number two quarterback behind former USC and Pitt transfer Kedon Slovis. But Roderick calls the backup designation a “unique situation.”

“So Jake Retzlaff is second with Cade Fennegan third,” Roderick said on Tuesday. “However, Cade has redshirted before and Jake has not. And so, depending on the situation throughout the season, we’ll make decisions about who would go in first. It would be great to say we can go the whole season and not burn Jake’s redshirt. But you can’t think like that you have to be ready to play and handle any situation that comes up.”

History shows you need more than one

Roderick has experienced seasons where he had to dig deep into his quarterback depth chart. Last season, after losing Jaren Hall for the bowl game, and Jacob Conover to the Transfer Portal, BYU turned to former player Sol-Jay Maiava-Peters to win the New Mexico Bowl.

In 2021, BYU turned to Baylor Romney to relieve an injured Jaren Hall.

Back in 2019, Hall, Zach Wilson, and Romney all had games where they started.

The only season since Aaron Roderick joined BYU’s staff in 2018 where one quarterback started in every game was 2020. Zach Wilson started in all 12 games and BYU finished with an 11-1 record.

Cade Fennegan will be the No. 3 but could be elevated

Ideally, that’s what BYU wants to see this year with Kedon Slovis in his final collegiate season. But Roderick is confident the offense can still operate at a level to compete if they turn to the backups.

“I think that they’re both (Retzlaff and Fennegan) good enough to win games with, for sure,” Roderick said.

Retzlaff was the number one junior college quarterback recruit in the 2023 recruiting cycle. Roderick, a former JUCO player himself at Ricks College before enrolling at BYU as a receiver in the 90s, still believes in the talent that JUCO ball can produce. Retzlaff was a player that Roderick targeted for a while.

“We watched him closely for a couple of years and he played very well at that (JUCO) level,” said Roderick. “No surprise to me, he’s done a great job here and he’s a good player.”

Fennegan is a former Boise State transfer entering his third season at BYU. The 6-foot-2, 190-pound quarterback from Dallas hasn’t played in a game since the COVID season in 2020 with the Broncos. Oddly enough, Fennegan’s most snaps took place against BYU, a game that saw Zach Wilson and the Cougars roll to a blowout win on the Blue Turf.

“My confidence level in him is so high right now compared to a year ago,” Roderick said on Fennegan. “Just a year ago, he was still learning and trying to stay healthy. He was working through a lot of things. Cade’s had a really good camp.”

BYU backup quarterback race

Fennegan was highly productive during spring practices. He took advantage of the second-team reps while Retzlaff was out with tonsilitis. Retzlaff was then cleared to compete during the back half of spring ball and started to emerge as BYU’s No. 2 quarterback.


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A post shared by Jake Retzlaff (@jretz11)

In March’s spring scrimmage in front of fans, Retzlaff was 7-of-10 for 69 yards and a touchdown.

Retzlaff has been the favorite to win the backup quarterback job since the conclusion of spring practices.

During the Tuesday, August 15, media observation of fall camp practice, Fennegan left practice early. Roderick noted on August 15 that Fennegan was “a little banged up.” That also gave preferred walk-on Nick Billoups some opportunities to earn second-team offense reps.

BYU also has true freshman Ryder Burton in the quarterback unit. Burton, who doesn’t turn 18 years old until August 26, showed well in his opportunities against scout team personnel during camp.

As fall camp closes, BYU turns its attention to the season opener against Sam Houston on September 2. Kickoff is 8:15 p.m. on FS1 and KSL NewsRadio.

Mitch Harper is a BYU Insider for 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 in the Big 12 Conference on Twitter/X and Threads: @Mitch_Harper.

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BYU Football Names Backup Quarterback To Close Out Fall Camp