PROVO — Pitt and USC transfer quarterback Kedon Slovis got his first chance to run the BYU offense, which he was brought in to keep purring on, and liked what he saw at the indoor practice facility Monday afternoon, when the Cougars held their first spring practice session as the Big 12 football team.

“I thought it was good,” said Slovis. “It was a first day so it wasn’t perfect by any means. There was some learning curve for everyone, some timing stuff. But I thought for the most part for a first day it was good. I’m pretty proud of the way the guys have competed.”

“I thought (Slovis) looked great. I thought all quarterbacks looked good, so no complaints about quarterbacks. There’s a lot of talent in this room.” — BYU Football Coach Kalani Sitake

As the Deseret News Sunday reported, the Cougars are far from full offensive strength after the first of 15 spring camp drills. Receiver Kody Epps (shoulder surgery) and running back Aidan Robbins, the UNLV transfer, are not participating in contact practice due to injuries, and tight end Isaac Rex is being kept out of many things as he continues to come back from a major compound leg fracture that is limiting his options limited in 2022.

That meant guys like Parker Kingston, Ethan Erickson and Hobbs Nyberg saw a lot of replays on Monday.

“I think these guys are going to really impress a lot of people,” Slovis said. “…The receivers here probably know the offensive better than any other receiver corps I’ve ever seen.”

That’s saying something considering the grad rotation happened at USC and Pitt, two Power Five programs.

What did Slovis look like?

That’s the question BYU fans want to know, and offensive coordinator Aaron Roderick and head coach Kalani Sitake were happy to share the good news.

“He was handsome, yes,” said Roderick. “We made a couple of big plays and had a couple of long fouls that were close. He made good decisions, was very careful with the ball and looks like he’s been in our system for a while.”

Sitake added, “I thought he looked great. I thought all quarterbacks looked good, so no complaints about quarterbacks. There is a lot of talent in this room.”

In the media viewing portion of the workout — the last 20 minutes or so — Slovis, Ryder Burton, Nick Billoups and Cade Fennegan got replays. Roderick said junior college transfer Jake Retzlaff recently had his tonsils taken out and was unavailable, but he will be fine. The sixth quarterback on the spring roster distributed by BYU Monday is Cole Hagen, the former Corner Canyon star.

“The quarterbacks are a lot further forward than I expected,” Sitake said. “I mean, there were obviously some bugs out there, but not really from them.”

Sitake said the offense is ahead of the defense as expected after shuffling the defensive staff during the offseason and hiring former Weber State coach Jay Hill as defensive coordinator.

“He’s doing it exactly like I would if I was running the defense,” Sitake said of Hill. “So, high energy, discipline and we’re focused on playing our base defense first and seeing what else we can mix in. But I think he’s using the talent and the staff in the right way.”

Hill also liked what he saw on Monday, saying the speed on defense has been excellent and now it’s a matter of getting the lads familiar with the scheme.

Hill commutes back and forth from Ogden, keeping his home in Weber County for a while so his children can finish the school year there.

“It was pretty tough,” he admitted.

He’s also looking for backup linebackers due to the absence of starters Max Tooley and Ben Bywater from spring camp after mid-season or post-season surgeries. These two are the only defenders on the two-deep list who won’t see live action until April 14, when camp ends.

In total there are 37 newcomers on the roster, which is quite a significant number, Sitake admitted.

The coach’s goal for the remaining 14 drills, which includes a public-facing scrimmage on March 31 at LaVell Edwards Stadium, is for them to “compete” at the Power Five level.

“Just fighting for positions and maybe consolidating places,” said Sitake about the goals. “It’s in every position at the moment. Of course, we also have to clarify that with the kickers.”

Most of the time, the quarterback spot is already settled, especially if Slovis stays healthy. Roderick confirmed that last week.

“Kedon has been a great worker since he’s been here. He’s done a great job of showing no justification,” Roderick said. “He’s just here to work and he’s just one of the guys, like everyone else. … He’s a good player and we’re all happy to have him.”


BYU quarterbacks gather with coaching staff at the conclusion of the opening day of BYU Spring Football Camp at the BYU Indoor Practice Facility in Provo on Monday, March 6, 2023.

Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

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