QB Elite’s Dustin Smith Breaks Down Local NFL, College Quarterbacks

Nov 3, 2023, 3:28 PM


Jaren Hall #16 of the Minnesota Vikings calls the play at the line of scrimmage against the Tennessee Titans in the second half during a preseason game at U.S. Bank Stadium on August 19, 2023 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Titans defeated the Vikings 24-16. (Photo by David Berding/Getty Images)

(Photo by David Berding/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY – Spanish Fork football coach and QB Elite founder Dustin Smith joined KSL Sports Zone to talk about some of the state’s current NFL and college quarterbacks.

On Thursday, November 2, Smith joined Jeremiah Jensen and Alex Kirry on KSL Sports Zone’s JJ & Alex.

During the trio’s conversation, the quarterback coach broke down the personalities of some of Utah’s top signal-calling products, Jaren Hall, Zach Wilson, Bryson Barnes, McCae Hillstead, and Justin Miller.

RELATED: Coaches Of Jaren Hall Give High Praise To Young QB’s Talent, Character

Jaren Hall – Minnesota Vikings (BYU)

Jensen and Kirry’s interview with Smith came only days ahead of Hall’s first NFL start. The rookie out of BYU made his professional debut in Week 8 of the NFL season and will start in the place of an injured Kirk Cousins in Week 9.

Smith was asked to list what attributes Hall has that will make him a successful NFL quarterback. This was his reply:

“I think the main one that I’ve told Jaren before is I said, ‘You’re like always 82 degrees and slightly breezy.’ And what I mean by that is ihat he’s just always even-keeled. He doesn’t get too up. He doesn’t get too down. He’s really good at letting things go…I think him going to Minnesota, he’s taking that same approach of, ‘Hey, I need to learn. I’m going to learn as much as I can and when I get my shot, you know, I’ll go in there.’ And like I said, he won’t let the moment get to him. And if he doesn’t come out and play great, he’s not going to let you know a rough couple games affect him in the long term. He’s got a really, really good ability to to move on and play the next play. Which we say all the time, ‘One play and clear, move on, one game and clear, move on.’ He’s as good as they come at that.”

Zach Wilson – New York Jets (BYU)

After discussing Hall, Jensen asked Smith to discuss another former BYU quarterback in Wilson. Smith was asked to detail what the Jets have done right and wrong in the development of the former No. 2 overall pick.

Well, it was a tough spot. As soon as Zach was drafted there, I was a little bit concerned…What I didn’t like about New York and I still don’t really like it and that is that Zach Wilson, you know, the problems with the New York Jets didn’t happen when Zach Wilson got there. I mean, they’ve got a decent defense but they’ve had an atrocious offensive line. They haven’t had a great run game for years…Very few quarterbacks go to teams like the New York Jets and their rookie year and just tear it up. And, you know, Zach said some things that probably didn’t endear him to the New York fans and especially to his teammates. I’m happy that the Jets stayed with him, that they made the move to bring Aaron Rodgers in and let Zach, you know, sit behind Aaron and and hopefully learn some things…He’s matured as much in the last year as anybody, I think, in the NFL and he’s gone from being a kid who was drafted and in the spotlight and all this money and attention to a professional…I’m proud of him and I think he’s going to go on to prove a lot of people wrong and I’m excited to see him do it. I’m glad the Jets are sticking with him and I hope they will because he’s going to end up being a very good quarterback, I think, in the league for a lot of years.”

Bryson Barnes – Utah Utes

Following the discussion on the pair of BYU products, the conversation turned to Utah’s current starting quarterback. Smith praised Barnes for his work ethic and his ability to battle the adversity he’s faced.

“Bryson was never a guy at any of these camps or workouts whose arm just impressed. I mean, he had a good arm but his motion was kind of stiff and he just didn’t have the natural fluidity that some of these just dudes have that I’ve seen. But there was a work ethic and a toughness behind him. He’s one of those guys that if you were to ask any coach, they would say, ‘I can win, I could lose with a guy like this. If I have a guy like this, this is why I coach, is to coach guys like Bryson Barnes.’ I think people need to understand that he’s not going to throw the ball 45 times a game and throw for 400 or 500 yards but he is a guy that they can win with. And I guarantee you the locker room loves playing with Bryson Barnes and he’s proven it. He’s proven enough now that he is a legit college quarterback. He’s not going to win the Heisman but he can show that he can win big games and he can do it against good teams. And I guarantee you, when it’s all said and done, he’ll go down as one of Kyle Whittingham’s all-time favorite players. He’s just that kind of a competitive kid.”

McCae Hillstead – Utah State Aggies

One of the newest quarterbacks on the college scene in Utah is USU’s Hillstead. The Skyridge product was thrust into action earlier this season despite being a true freshman. Smith wasn’t that surprised to see the former Falcon playing at the collegiate level.

“McCae was another kid. Similar to Jaren, in my mind. They’re not the 6-foot-3, you know, prototypical type kids that you hear everybody wanting to find. But I remember when he was in 7th, 8th grade, couple things about him, a really, really smooth natural throwing motion, unbelievable, just super humble and and wanted to be taught…But he was so fast and so quick. It was pretty easy to see with McCae Hillstead that his superpower was unbelievable reaction and quickness, that his arm came along and it didn’t surprise me at all that he got a chance to play at college and then I was pretty sure that it wouldn’t take long for him to see time. I didn’t think it’d be this year, as a true freshman. But to see him go out and play well didn’t surprise me either.”

Justin Miller – Southern Utah Thunderbirds

Last but not least, Smith gave a shoutout to SUU’s Miller. Smith, who co-founded QB Elite with former BYU quarterback Ty Detmer, mentioned Miller as a player with a similar style to the Heisman Trophy winner.

“Justin’s a sit-in-the-pocket, more like a Ty Detmer type, where he’s super intelligent, really sits back and studies defenses. And that’s his superpower.”

To hear Smith’s entire conversation with Jensen and Kirry, listen to the podcast in the audio player above. You can listen to the JJ & Alex show on weekdays from 3-6 p.m. (MDT) on KSL Sports Zone.

Kyle Ireland is a Sports Producer and Locals in the NFL Insider for KSLSports.com. He’s also co-host of the Yards After College Podcast. Follow him on X/Twitter (@kyleireland), Instagram (@kyleirelandksl), and Threads (@kyleirelandksl).

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QB Elite’s Dustin Smith Breaks Down Local NFL, College Quarterbacks