Who Is Jake Retzlaff? Five Things You Should Know About BYU QB

Nov 4, 2023, 8:26 AM

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Jake Retzlaff will be the starting quarterback for BYU football today as the Cougars take on West Virginia.

Retzlaff is stepping in for Kedon Slovis, who is dealing with a shoulder injury and elbow pain.

Who is Jake Retzlaff?

So, who is Jake Retzlaff? Here are five things you should know.

Recruitment flew under the radar due to COVID-19

Retzlaff was an obscure recruit due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The 6-foot-1, 205-pound prospect prepped at Centennial High School in California.

He took over as the starting quarterback in his junior year. But his senior year was canceled because of the pandemic.

“So you didn’t get many opportunities during the COVID year because the season got canceled and delayed,” Retzlaff said to KSL Sports. “So all you can do is stay patient and then once you get that opportunity, never settle, just keep going and strive to be as best as you could possibly be. That’s truly something I live by and will continue.”

Along with football, Retzlaff also played baseball during his prep career, where he was a shortstop and pitcher.

After his prep career didn’t lead to much recruiting interest from FBS programs, Retzlaff enrolled at Golden West College in Huntington Beach, California. He emerged as the starting quarterback, throwing for 3,302 yards in 12 starts.

Retzlaff then transferred to Riverside City College, where he rewrote the record books for RCC. In 13 starts, Retzlaff passed for 4,596 yards, 44 touchdowns, and completed 63% of his 493 passing attempts. He led RCC to the California Community College championship game against San Mateo.

Those numbers put Retzlaff as the No. 1 QB on ESPN’s JUCO rankings for the 2023 recruiting cycle.

After that, he signed with BYU this past January. Aaron Roderick and analyst Matt Mitchell recruited him.

Retzlaff on the jump from JUCO to Power Five football.

“It’s definitely a jump, for sure,” Retzlaff said to KSL Sports in April. “Everybody’s got Division One bodies everywhere now instead of here or there and a couple of DII guys. But it’s definitely a jump. It’s fun to see it and it’s fun to know you also go that on your side of the ball. It’s awesome. You can really rely on guys a lot more in Division One football than you can in JUCO. So it’s fun.”

Impressive debut in the spring game

Retzlaff enrolled at BYU in January and participated in winter conditioning in spring practices. He had a delayed start on his spring ball competition as he was dealing with tonsilitis that required surgery.

But once he settled into practice for week two of spring, he immersed himself as the No. 2 quarterback. He took all of the second-string quarterbacks in the spring game and he was 7-of-10 for 69 yards and a touchdown pass.

Jake Retzlaff has a knack for improvising with the ability to run

During spring ball, the media was able to see Retzlaff’s ability to run and improvise. He has unique arm angles when he throws the ball on the run.

KSL Sports asked Retzlaff if he likes to improvise as a quarterback.

“It’s real fun and it reminds me of backyard football, getting to do whatever you want. As a quarterback getting to move around, it’s always great to be a threat in so many different ways against a defense,” Retzlaff said to KSL Sports in April. “That scramble drill is really a second play, and you ask any defensive guy or DBs, it’s really like guarding a brand new play. Everything that happened for the five seconds before that, doesn’t matter anymore. So it’s fun. A lot of great opportunities come from it. So exciting, I love to do it.”

BYU coaches wanted to maintain Retzlaff’s redshirt year

Could Jake Retzlaff be viewed as the starting quarterback of the future for BYU? Possibly. The reason to believe that could be the case is that offensive coordinator Aaron Roderick has wanted to maintain the redshirt year for Retzlaff.

Retzlaff will be able to play in the final four games of the season and a bowl, if BYU qualifies for one, this year, with two years of eligibility remaining.

Retzlaff has been the No. 2 quarterback throughout the entire season, with Cade Fennegan as the No. 3 behind him.

First Jewish Athlete to Start at QB for BYU

Jake Retzlaff is Jewish. He’s the first Jewish athlete to start at quarterback for BYU.

BYU is a school owned and operated by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. That wasn’t a problem for Retzlaff and he’s enjoyed time in Provo.

“It’s definitely been interesting and it’s been an interesting journey to kind of navigate it,” Retzlaff said to KSL Sports in April on being Jewish at a LDS school. “The funny thing about growing up in Southern California where I did, there wasn’t a big Jewish community anyways. So throughout sports my entire life, I was always the only Jewish guy on the team. Through team prayers, they’re always a little bit different. Here it’s a little more for sure. We pray with the team every day so it’s different, but it’s not anything crazy and it’s not anything that I think should scare anybody from BYU. They like to embrace us and it’s fun.”

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 X and Threads: @Mitch_Harper.

Take us with you wherever you go.

Download the new & improved KSL Sports app from Utah’s sports leader. You can stream live radio, video and stay up to date on all of your favorite teams.

  • BYU Cougars Scoreboard

  • BYU Cougars Team Leaders

  • BYU Cougars Standings

Cougar Tracks

BYU Football, Zach Wilson, Kalani Sitake, Signing Day...

Mitch Harper

Ranking BYU Football’s Best Players To Sign During The Kalani Sitake Era

The best players to sign with BYU football for Kalani Sitake from high school and the Transfer Portal.

4 months ago

Foster Pavilion, Baylor Bears, BYU Basketball, Big 12...

Mitch Harper

Foster Pavilion Was Great Stage For BYU’s First Big 12 Road Game

Baylor's new $212 million home was a great setting for a Big 12 basketball game.

5 months ago

BYU Football, 12-Team Playoff, LJ Martin...

Mitch Harper

Three Things BYU Football Needs To One Day Reach 12-Team Playoff

The 12-team Playoff is coming in college football. What does BYU need to do to one day play in the bracket?

5 months ago

Big 12 Basketball, BYU, Dallin Hall...

Mitch Harper

How Will BYU Basketball Fare In Big 12? Projecting 2024 Order Of Finish

Where will BYU finish in their first season of Big 12 Conference play? Time to make predictions.

5 months ago

BYU Basketball, Mark Pope, Big 12...

Mitch Harper

Mark Pope Lays Out BYU’s Expectations For Inaugural Big 12 Schedule

Big 12 play has arrived for No. 12 BYU Basketball. Mark Pope shares his expectations for conference play.

5 months ago

BYU Basketball, Trevin Knell, Three-Point Shooting...

Mitch Harper

What We Learned About BYU Basketball During Nonconference Play

BYU basketball turns its attention to Big 12 play. But first we take a step back at look at what we learned about the Cougars in nonconference.

5 months ago

Sponsored Articles

Hans & Scotty's Day of Adoption...

Hans & Scotty’s Day Of Adoption

Join the KSL Sports Zone for Hans & Scotty's Day of Adoption, in partnership with the Humane Society of Utah, on June 25th, 2024!


KSL Sports

KSL Sports Newsletter: Sign Up Now

Sign up today for the KSL Sports newsletter. Get the latest Utah sports news delivered to your inbox.


KSL Sports

Jazz Notes Newsletter: Sign Up Now

Sign up today for the Jazz Notes newsletter. Get insider analysis, game recaps and opportunities to win tickets!

3 kids wearing real salt lake jerseys smiling...

Real Salt Lake

6 Reasons You Need to Experience a RSL Matchday

RSL Games are a great way to spend time with your family with fun activities, good food, and traditions you can only experience at the field.

High angle view of the beautiful Rose Bowl Stadium...

KSL Digital Sales

How to Prepare for the 2023 Rose Bowl

Everything you need to know to plan your 2023 Rose Bowl trip in Pasadena, California. This year, the Utes will face Penn State.


KSL Digital Sales

Notable Moments From The Utah Jazz Season… So Far

At the beginning of the season, the Utah Jazz were second to last. Now they rank in the top 10 teams in the Western Conference.

Who Is Jake Retzlaff? Five Things You Should Know About BYU QB