Kalani Sitake, right, answers questions at BYU Football Media Day in 2019. (Addie Blacker)

4 questions going into BYU Football Media Day

BYU Football hosts its annual media day on Thursday, June 17, when the program’s players and coaches will give the world its first legitimate look at what to expect from the 2021 Cougars.

Each year’s event fires up the typical preseason chatter and questions that carry into fall camp and beyond, and with a thick quarterback competition and stacked schedule in the distance, this year will be no different. Here are four pressing questions heading into Thursday’s festivities.

Who will start at quarterback for the Cougars?

Not only is this question a no-brainer, but it’s one of the biggest in all of college football. All eyes are will be watching to see who emerges as Provo’s heir (or air) apparent to second overall pick and Jets darling Zach Wilson.

Sophomores Jaren Hall and Baylor Romney and freshman Jacob Conover lead the charge out of BYU’s quarterback room, with fellow freshman Sol-Jay Maiava-Peters generating buzz as well.

Despite solid play, Hall’s career as a Cougar has been plagued by continuous injuries. He has never closed out a game in which he was the starter. Romney was thrown into the deep end as an emergency starter amid a depleted depth chart two years ago. He made the most of the opportunity to upset Boise State in Provo, but has yet to receive consistent playing time since.

Conover came to town as one of the most highly-touted prospects in program history after winning three straight Arizona high school state titles. The three main passing prospects could not come from more different backgrounds and all bring a unique skill set to the table.

While any sort of major announcement regarding the depth chart for fall is unlikely to come at media day, it will be interesting to see how the coaches and players respond to the questions about the competition.

Aaron Roderick: offensive coordinator?

This winter, the Cougars promoted quarterbacks coach Aaron Roderick to the position of offensive coordinator after Jeff Grimes went south to Baylor for the same position.

As Roderick, BYU’s fourth OC in seven seasons, takes full reins of the offense, it will be interesting to see how the unit follows up its top-five national ranking after the departures of Wilson and new Washington receiver Dax Milne.

Aaron Roderick speaks with the media at BYU Football Media Day in 2018. Roderick was promoted to offensive coordinator for the upcoming season. (Gabriel Mayberry/BYU Photo)

The direction of Roderick’s overall scheme will depend a great deal on who emerges as the starting quarterback, but with tight end Isaac Rex and running back Tyler Allgeier leading the returning offensive charge and Roderick’s incumbent status within the program, there shouldn’t be too much expected turbulence.

Look for comments from Roderick and head coach Kalani Sitake on the expectations and transition for the offense.

Who are the new faces to watch for?

Each season brings a new mix of freshmen, transfers and returned missionaries to BYU’s roster, with this year adding a solid crop that should have an immediate impact.

The biggest offseason splash came from receivers Samson and Puka Nacua, younger brothers of former Cougar ball-hawking safety Kai Nacua. The pair transferred from Utah and Washington, respectively, joining a crowded receiver room that also includes four-year starter Gunner Romney and freshman Chase Roberts, a standout from American Fork who signed with the Cougars two years ago before serving as a missionary in Calgary, Alberta.

Defensive back Jaylon Vickers, another returning missionary with a large eligibility sum remaining, rejoins the defense after playing meaningful downs as a redshirt freshman in late 2018.

Possible media day themes could include why the Nacua brothers made the jump from the Pac-12 to Provo, the diverse receiver group and consequent workload, and what the program expects from its remaining commits in the fall.

What is BYU’s long term plan regarding conference independence?

As is almost always the case, one would expect several questions—cynical or not—regarding BYU’s status and future as an independent program. However, this year’s questions about whether the Cougars will stand pat or actively pursue conference admission will come at a unique time, as rumors involving a possible 12-team expansion for the College Football Playoff swirl in the news.

Such an expansion would have definitely benefitted BYU this past season as the Cougars hunted for a top 10 national ranking and New Year’s bowl game. The winds of change in the College Football Playoff could lead to important comments from BYU Athletic Director Tom Holmoe in his State of the Program address at Media Day on Thursday, as he hinted at on Twitter.

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