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.

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