By their recent standards of success, last season was somewhat underwhelming for the BYU Cougars. As their transition to the Big 12 seeks to show they belong in the national conversation, there is something of a synergy between the college football program and new quarterback Kedon Slovis — as both begin the bounce back to where they belong.
Kedon Slovis Impresses as BYU Begins Spring Practice
BYU opened spring practice on Monday, the beginning of a slog toward the start of the 2023 season. It will mark the first season they are not an independent since 2010. With their transition to the Big 12, the Cougars are now a Power Five program. Their answer to competing at the level instantly was to secure a quarterback with experience and the talent to play at the level — to a high level.
While it’s only the early days of spring practice, the decision to bring Slovis to BYU appears to paying immediate dividends for both the player and the program.
“He looked good, yeah,” BYU offensive coordinator Aaron Roderick told the Deseret News in the aftermath of the first practice session of the spring. “We made a couple of big plays and had a couple long foul balls that were close. He made good decisions, took really good care of the ball, and he looks like he has been in our system for a while.”
Roderick coached Tyler Huntley and Troy Williams at Utah. He was the man behind Zach Wilson’s ascension to college football superstardom and helped Jaren Hall compile 3,000+ passing yards and 34 total touchdowns that have put him firmly on the NFL radar. The moral of the story? He knows a thing or two about what it takes to succeed at the quarterback position in college football.
“I thought he looked great,” BYU head coach Kalani Sitake concurred with Roderick’s assessment of Slovis’ opening salvo of spring practice. “The quarterbacks are a lot further ahead than I expected. I mean, there were obviously some mistakes out there, but not by them, really.”
Slovis himself remained pragmatic, understanding that the two are only at the beginning of their bounce back to college football relevancy in these early days of spring practice. However, there was a hint of optimism and excitement in his voice as he reflected on his first day at work in his new home.
“I thought it was good,” Slovis told the media in the aftermath of his first practice in Provo. “It was a first day, so it wasn’t perfect by any means. There were some learning curves for everyone, some timing stuff. But I thought for the most part for a first day it was good. I am pretty proud of the way guys competed.”
Five years ago, Slovis was opening spring practice for the USC Trojans. A true freshmen entering a program with a five-star starter already in place, expectations for him weren’t high in March 2019.
That was perhaps the last time that they weren’t, with a standout season when called into the USC starting lineup thrusting him into the national spotlight. Replacing J.T. Daniels, Slovis set program records on his way to being named the Pac-12 Offensive Freshman of the Year.
Since then, the road to Provo has been as rocky for Slovis as the mountains that provide the stunning backdrop to LaVell Edwards Stadium.
Injury and inconsistency have blighted his copybook, sullying the reputation of a player once considered a potential QB1 of the 2021 NFL Draft. The arrival of Lincoln Riley and Caleb Williams hastened a departure from USC at the end of 2021.
A disappointing season spent in Pittsburgh that saw him throw a career-low 10 touchdowns while matching a career-high nine interceptions resulted in a trip back into the transfer portal. A thinly-veiled parting shot from his former head coach added character question marks to the negative analysis of his game.
“He brings the leadership that maybe we lacked a year ago,” Pat Narduzzi said of incoming quarterback Phil Jurkovec.
Without mentioning his name, it was universally understood that the long-time Pitt head coach was referring to Slovis’ leadership qualities in a season where the Panthers failed to replicate the magic in a bottle that they enjoyed with Kenny Pickett the previous season.
Landing with BYU, Slovis is on to his third team in three seasons. While college football is allegedly an amateur sport and not a business, there is a negative perception of people who jump from one workplace to another, failing to settle in a spot. That could appear to corroborate Narduzzi’s opinion about Slovis as a leader.
For a player not considered a leader, Slovis spent a large portion of his media availability talking up the players who’ll be catching passes from this fall. Furthermore, BYU offensive coordinator Roderick has waxed lyrical about their new quarterback’s work ethic and character since arriving at the program.
“Kedon has been a great worker since he’s been here. He’s done a great job of showing no entitlement. He is just here to work, and he’s just one of the guys, like everybody else. He is a good player, and we are all excited to have him.”
If the impression made early in spring practice is any indicator, BYU fans should be excited to have Slovis as a Cougar this season too. While the fall schedule is a speck on the horizon right now, the BYU assault on the Big 12 will be here sooner than you think. The bounce back has already begun for both the program and their new passer.