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The BYU football team looks to bounce back this weekend against South Florida, but they’ll have to do it without starting quarterback Zach Wilson.

Coming off Wilson’s hand injury against Toledo, redshirt freshman Jaren Hall will get his first start for the Cougars on Saturday, making him the first African American to ever start at quarterback at BYU.

Hall, who played in the Cougars’ final series against Toledo, said playing in that game will give him confidence going forward. “It was good to get in there with the guys and feel the speed of an actual game,” Hall said in a press conference earlier this week. “It gave me the confidence to know that I can go in and compete at the college level.”

“He’s extremely confident, and I think he’s ready for this moment,” said Cougar head coach Kalani Sitake. “I’m really excited for him, and I know he’s really excited.”

Fellow teammate and graduate transfer Emmanuel Esukpa said Hall’s preparation for being the starter is the same now as it was two weeks ago. “Jaren’s always been a confident guy in whatever he does, walking around the locker room or walking up to the line to take reps and make calls and adjustments,” Esukpa said. “I see him as the same guy cause he’s always been ready to do whatever he needs to do to help the team win.”

Hall, whose dad played fullback for the Cougars in the ‘90s and whose brother played running back at BYU, also has lots of support coming from his family.

“I had a chance to talk with them throughout the week,” Hall said. “They’re excited to see me play, as any parent would be of their son or daughter in this position.”

Hall has had lots of reps with the Cougar offense, including this past spring while Zach Wilson recovered from off-season shoulder surgery. Hall believes those reps will pay off tomorrow afternoon as he will become the first African American to start at quarterback for the Cougars.

“I’m proud of my ancestors, very proud of my ethnicity and all the things that come with that,” Hall said. “It’s an honor and a privilege to be here and to be playing at this wonderful university.”

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