Good news continues to flow from the BYU football program as the university last week announced the signing of quarterback Jake Retzlaff from Riverside City College (RCC). Retzlaff is ranked as the top junior college quarterback in the nation by 247 Sports and ESPN and has the talent, performance and charisma to back it up.
Nothing came easy when recruiting Retzlaff, except, of course, playing quarterback. Retzlaff attended Corona Centennial High School, which has produced a long line of Power Five quarterbacs such as Nebraska’s Adrian Martinez and Stanford’s Tanner McKee. Retzlaff was poised to be next in line before the pandemic cut his senior season to just five games. With the season, most Retzlaff recruitment opportunities disappeared.
Retzlaff bet on himself by taking the junior collegiate route, where he averaged 7,898 yards, 67 TDs, 19 INTs and 15 TDs on the ground over his two seasons and Golden West College and RCC. It was only a matter of time before the FBS ranks took notice. Retzlaff heard about schools like Hawaii, UTEP, Coastal Carolina, Georgia Southern and Liberty, but the something that set BYU apart when coach Aaron Roderick walked onto RCC’s campus early last summer. “You see the big Y on the coach’s chest and you’re like, ‘Ok, this is serious quarterback football.'” Retzlaff recalls, “I knew it was a really quarterback-friendly system that went into the recruiting process . That’s where you can really excel as a QB. ARod came out to watch me throw and I guess he liked what he saw.”
Cougar fans will fall in love with Retzlaff the moment he steps onto the BYU field. Retzlaff plays a free-flowing, improvisational style of football that has become a staple of BYU quarterbacks under Aaron Roderick. He took his game after childhood hero Aaron Rodgers and honed it on the baseball field. “My playing style, and particularly the arm angles, comes from my shortstop baseball background. Being able to drop the football from any spot is helpful for getting around defenders, but things like escaping the pocket and running left and throwing right and vice versa are what I’m good at, and I look forward to bringing that to bear.
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Retzlaff has enrolled at BYU, where they have shared freshman experiences like settling into his home and trying to navigate the convoluted college campus. “I probably look lost half the time, but I think I figured it out. I hope I don’t get lost again,” he chuckled. “The people here are great and the whole program has been super helpful.” He noted that recipients like Chase Roberts and Hobbs Nyberg have played a big part in smoothing the transition. Living with three transfers ultimately helped him take a deep breath and realize he’s not the only one adjusting to the change of scenery.
But don’t let the first day of school fool you, Retzlaff is here to compete on day one. “I will take every opportunity. Something I live by is, “Be patient and never settle.” I will be patient. I know I will have the opportunity to come in and compete and I will aim for that spot. I won’t commit myself.”
Off the field, BYU believers are valued for both his personality and his skills at center. “I’m a little more relaxed than people would expect me to be as a quarterback. I’m a really chilled guy who’s really goofy at times,” he explained. “When people see me they will know that I am having a lot of fun and that I am very passionate about this game. My goal is that at the end of the day I have more fun than everyone else. You’ll see lots of smiles on the good and hold my head up on the bad as I prepare for the next track. Overall I really enjoy this game and love it a lot.”
Jake Retzlaff is built like a BYU quarterback in every way. His confidence and charisma shine through every conversation and his talent jumps to the screen with every sales representative. At the end of the day, he knows what he came to BYU for. With a mischievous grin and jingling hands, he concluded, “Cougar Nation, let’s win a Big 12 championship.”
For the full audio interview with Jake Retzlaff, follow the link below.