Will BYU Football Pay Millions For Transfer Portal Quarterback?

Dec 8, 2023, 2:01 PM | Updated: 2:03 pm

PROVO, Utah – One of the top priorities for BYU football during the 2024 Transfer Portal cycle is landing a quarterback.

BYU lost starting quarterback Kedon Slovis after he completed his one season as a graduate transfer from Pitt and USC. They return Jake Retzlaff, who started the final four games of the regular season but posted a winless record as the starter.

Head coach Kalani Sitake was noncommittal to Retzlaff as the 2024 starter at the end of the regular season after a double-overtime loss to Oklahoma State.

“We have a good group of quarterbacks that can play,” Sitake said. “Some of them are really young. I have a lot of faith in Cade Fennegan, Nick Billoups, and Ryder Burton’s an up-and-coming young player. He’s done some really good things when he’s been running the scout team. So we’ll evaluate it.”

Since the end of the regular season in college football concluded, 96 quarterbacks have entered the Transfer Portal.

The portal features a wide range of QB prospects. From the Big 12’s top passer, Dillon Gabriel, out of Oklahoma, to former BYU option runner Sol-Jay Maiava-Peters.

Safe to say not all quarterbacks in the portal are equal.

Millions required for Transfer Portal QBs?

To get the top-end quarterbacks in the transfer portal, Nebraska head coach Matt Rhule put it out there in a press conference setting with microphones rolling on what the price will be.

“Make no mistake, a good quarterback in the portal costs $1 million, $1.5 million, to $2 million right now,” said Rhule. “Just so we’re on the same page. Let’s make sure we all understand what’s happening. There are some teams that have $6-7 million players playing for them.”

It was jaw-dropping to hear an FBS head coach say that.

Is that the price tag for BYU to get a quarterback? Perhaps the better question is, would BYU pay such a price tag for a quarterback in the portal?

Tom Holmoe shares his thoughts on the price for Portal QBs

During an exclusive interview earlier this week, KSL Sports asked BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe and referenced Matt Rhule’s comments.

“I think that’s one coach that said that. I can assure you that not all Division I FBS quarterbacks are making one and a half million dollars,” Holmoe said to KSL Sports. “But in reality, in this day and age, we’re in the NIL game. We have a collective (The Royal Blue) that helps out our football program and some of our other sports. So it’s just something that’s changed.

“We talk about the transition into the Big 12. It happened at a time where you have the transfer portal, you have NIL, you have collectives, and you have realignment with conferences. There’s a lot of things going on. There are changes in the NCAA and the future and rules like that. There are many changes right now. The key thing is to be able to communicate and keep our strategy. Remember that we are BYU and what we represent and how we go about our business. For that matter, that’s what we’re involved in right now.”

BYU Football transfer QB targets

BYU has offered Ohio quarterback Kurtis Rourke in the portal.

There have been reports that former Boise State signal-caller Taylen Green is going to take a visit to BYU. Michigan State transfer Sam Leavitt, younger brother to former BYU and Utah State DB Dallin Leavitt, told 247Sports that BYU offered him.

BYU has also expressed interest in FCS QB Zevi Eckhaus from Bryant University.

None of those quarterbacks are rated in the Top 15 in 247Sports’ Transfer Portal rankings. Rourke is the highest of the group; he checks in at No. 16. He was the 2022 MAC Offensive Player of the Year at Ohio.

What Kalani Sitake wants

After a 5-7 season with a high-profile addition at QB last offseason in Slovis, Kalani Sitake isn’t worried about the rankings or stars of players. He wants any addition at the quarterback to show intangibles that go beyond stars and NIL paydays.

“I think the key in the transfer portal and in recruiting is to make sure that they’re a good fit for our culture and our program,” Sitake said. “If they do that, then I think we’ll be fine. They want to be at BYU; we’ll play a lot better with them being here.”

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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Will BYU Football Pay Millions For Transfer Portal Quarterback?