Spring practices begin in Provo with all eyes on the starting quarterback competition, Jake Retzlaff vs. Gerry Bohanon

BYU quarterback Jake Retzlaff throws the ball 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.

Bring on the competition.

That’s the message BYU quarterback Jake Retzlaff delivered Thursday as the first of 15 spring football practices began at the outdoor practice facility behind the Student Athlete Building in Provo.

Retzlaff started BYU’s last four games last season, all losses, and then watched this winter as offensive coordinator Aaron Roderick brought in a couple experienced quarterbacks, Baylor/USF’s Gerry Bohanon and Western Michigan’s Treyson Bourguet, to compete against him for the starting job in 2024.

Then Roderick told the Deseret News last week that the starter will either be Retzlaff or Bohanon, with Bourguet in the mix to be QB3 along with redshirt freshman Ryder Burton and junior Cade Fennegan.

Some QBs with four starts under their belt might have taken that with a bit of disdain, but not the even-keeled Retzlaff.

“You know, that is the world we live in. If you are not competing, then what are you doing?” Retzlaff said. “Iron sharpens iron. That’s the way I look at it. Those guys are going to push me every day. So that is just the mindset I got going into it, and like I said, I am not worrying about the outside things. … Just worry about yourself and just go out there and ball and do your thing. That’s kinda what I have been doing since Day 1.”

Retzlaff said he spent the winter break working out with former BYU QB John Beck and Beck’s 3DQB academy. They work out on the field where he played his first year of junior college ball, which is only 30 minutes away from his hometown of Corona, California.

“So it is awesome to be able to work with a guy like that, with the experience he has,” Retzlaff said. “He has taught me so much in the short time we have been working together. He is helping me in every facet.”

In the 15-20 minute portion of practice that the media was allowed to watch, four QBs got reps — Retzlaff, Bohanon, Bourguet and Fennegan. There are no fewer than 10 QBs at spring camp and in the QBs room, which has 10 chairs, according to Retzlaff.

“I never thought they would all be filled. I am not going to lie to you,” Retzlaff joked. “But it is pretty fun. We could almost fill the entire field with 10. We just need one more. So if you know of anybody, let us know.”

Bohanon also met with reporters after the first practice, and said his time in Provo so far has been even better than he expected. He sat out all of last year with an injury, but he said playing again was like riding a bicycle.

“There is some stuff I need to get better at, but it felt good just to get back out there and to be in command in the huddle with the O line looking at you,” Bohanon said. “It felt good to be out there again.”

He said he got medically cleared to play again last November, and then again in January by BYU’s people.

Bohanon described himself as a dual-threat quarterback, and that showed a bit Thursday as he reeled off a couple runs in the non-padded practice.

“I can move just a little bit,” he said, smiling.

Bohanon described his relationship with Retzlaff as good and Retzlaff said they instantly hit it off and were cracking inside jokes with each other the second day they knew each other.

“I mean, we all know what it is. It is a competition,” Bohanon said. “We are just coming out to find ways to get better and help each other get better at the same time.”

Bohanon called Roderick “a genius” and said he’s already learned a lot from BYU’s OC. He also said BYU’s receivers are as talented as those at his other two stops, but bigger in stature collectively.

Head coach Kalani Sitake concurred with Roderick’s early notion that Retzlaff and Bohanon would compete for the starting job and would divide the reps evenly in spring ball. He said the way they performed Thursday “was a good indication” of that.

“They have tons of talent. Those guys understand the scheme a lot more and they are in a good position right now to make plays. I thought they made a lot of big-time plays today, made some really excellent throws, some good decisions and took care of the football,” Sitake said. “So that stuff matters the most. They have a lot of experience, too.

“I thought the other quarterbacks performed well, too,” Sitake added. “So we have a crowded room, but there is a lot of talent there.”

Sitake called the first practice “a very good day” and said the Cougars accomplished a lot. He said there’s obviously a sense of urgency after last season ended up consecutive losses to Texas, West Virginia, Iowa State, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State.

“Whenever you are coming off a year where you know you underperformed and didn’t go as well as you wanted them to, there had to be some changes,” he said. “We know we have to do things differently, that’s why we made the changes we did, added the certain resources we did on our staff, and support staff and strength room. That is where we are right now.”