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Jake Retzlaff Prepared For BYU QB Competition With Former Star

Feb 29, 2024, 11:20 PM

BYU Football, Jake Retzlaff, QB Competition...

BYU quarterback Jake Retzlaff gestures to his teammates during a practice on the SAB outdoor practice fields at the start of spring camp in Provo on Thursday, Feb. 29, 2024. (Marielle Scott, Deseret News)

(Marielle Scott, Deseret News)

PROVO, Utah – The one word to describe Jake Retzlaff during the first day of BYU football spring practice was excited.

Retzlaff enters his second season with the BYU program after starting four games last year. The former No. 1 JUCO quarterback prospect by ESPN gained valuable playing time while still maintaining his redshirt year.

Retzlaff finished last season with 648 passing yards, three touchdowns, and three interceptions. The 6-foot-1, 205-pound prospect also rushed for 116 yards and three touchdowns on 51 carries.

Retzlaff enters the 2024 season as a redshirt junior and is in the thick of a quarterback competition with Baylor/USF transfer QB Gerry Bohanon.

“I’m just super excited. The guys are really excited to go today. We had great energy like you expect on the first day [of practice],” said Retzlaff on Thursday. “It was so fun to be out there again. I’ve been sitting around waiting for this for the last few months. I’m just so excited to be back out here.”

After Retzlaff’s four starts last season, BYU head coach Kalani Sitake didn’t commit to naming Retzlaff as the starting QB for 2024. That meant it would be a quarterback competition to determine who would lead BYU’s offense in their second year as a Big 12 program.

Jake Retzlaff trained with former BYU star John Beck during the offseason

To prepare for the competition, Retzlaff, a California native, took the path many BYU quarterbacks recently took, training with former BYU star John Beck at 3DQB.

“I live in Corona, California, which is 30 minutes away from Huntington Beach. So I’m out there with John Beck as much as I could when I was gone for the break. I’m so fortunate that I’m able to do that to live down the road and to be able to do that. He works out of my first junior college, that field that I played on. That’s where we work out every day.”

The past three starting BYU quarterbacks, Zach Wilson, Jaren Hall, and Kedon Slovis, all trained with John Beck in California. Retzlaff joins that group.

“It’s awesome to be able to work with a guy like that with the experience that he has. He’s taught me so much in the short time that we’ve been working together and he’s just helping me improve in every single facet.”

The media was able to watch 20 minutes of practice on Thursday. Retzlaff’s highlight pass was a completion to tight end Keanu Hill. The pass was highlighted by Retzlaff’s ability to throw the ball with unique arm angles, something he credits to his history playing baseball in high school.

 

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Sitake said he would like a starting quarterback as soon as possible. But the ninth-year head coach added that the starting quarterback job will not be handed to anyone and that somebody has to earn it.

So, don’t be surprised if this battle continues into fall camp in August.

“Iron sharpens iron”

Retzlaff isn’t letting the competition take over his thoughts during practice.

“I’m just worried about going out there and ballin’. Like I said, I’ve been waiting on this for a long time. So worrying about stuff like that is going to take care of itself. At the end of the day, that’s not what I’m focused on. I’m focused on getting reps and getting out there with the guys. It’s just fun to play football.”

However, Retzlaff noted that he embraced the opportunity to compete when BYU signed Gerry Bohanon and Western Michigan walk-on Treyson Bourguet out of the transfer portal.

“That’s the world we live in. Right? If you’re not competing, then what are you doing? Iron sharpens iron,” Retzlaff said. “So that’s the way I look at it. It’s like, those guys are gonna push me to be better every day. That’s just the mindset I’ve got going into it.”

BYU will have 15 spring practices that run until March 30.

Mitch Harper is a BYU Insider for KSLsports.com and hosts the Cougar Tracks Podcast (SUBSCRIBE) and Cougar Sports Saturday (12–3 p.m.) on KSL Newsradio. Follow Mitch’s coverage of BYU in the Big 12 Conference on X: @Mitch_Harper.

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Jake Retzlaff Prepared For BYU QB Competition With Former Star