PROVO — The saga of record-setting Utah high school quarterback Austin Kafentzis has returned to the Wasatch Front.
The former Jordan High School star who originally enrolled at Wisconsin before playing at Nevada and Arizona Western College has joined second-year BYU coach Kalani Sitake at Brigham Young University as a sophomore quarterback.
No formal announcement was made, but Kafentzis’ bio appeared on the Cougars’ official roster as he enrolled to start spring term. The former two-time Gatorade Utah player of the year and KSL Game Night Live Player of the Year was listed as a quarterback, and he confirmed to KSL that he has enrolled for BYU's spring term.
“I love football, and I felt BYU was the best fit for me,” Kafentzis told KSL Sports. “That’s why I ended my circle back here in Utah.”
Kafentzis joins incumbent starter Tanner Mangum, redshirt sophomores Beau Hoge and Koy Detmer Jr., senior Young Tanner, freshman Kody Wilstead and Joe Critchlow, a former Vanderbilt prospect who will return from an LDS Church mission this summer at quarterback this fall.
He also hopes to pick up the javelin again for the BYU track and field team, but can’t practice with the squad for a full calendar year, according to NCAA rules and regulations.
“Right now, football is first,” Kafentzis said. “I’ve got to fix a few things on my fav, because I don’t want to hurt my arm. They want me coming in as QB … but I want to get up and practice with the track team.”
In addition to Kafentzis, BYU also added a handful of other players to the roster, confirming their arrival at the beginning of spring term. Massive 410-pound former rugby player Motekiai Langi has returned from a two-year mission to Phoenix, and the native Tongan who signed as a "lineman" was listed as a defensive lineman to date.
Junior college transfer John Vaka also appeared on the roster, where he is likely to take up a similar spot on the offensive line as the one vacated by recent NFL free agent Andrew Eide. Freshmen Tanner Baker, Bentley Hanshaw and Will Sedgwick are also among those who have arrived on campus.
Defensive lineman Sione Takitaki was once again on the roster after spending the 2016 season away from BYU's program.
Kafentzis finished his prolific four-year high school career with 15 Utah High School Activities Association records during a tenure that reached 13,079 passing yards, 6,942 rushing yards and 115 touchdowns. He also helped the Beetdiggers to the Class 5A state championship as a sophomore in 2012, his second season as the team’s starting quarterback.
Kafentzis held offers from Boise State, Arizona State, Idaho, San Diego State, Utah, UCLA, Oregon and New Mexico State before choosing Wisconsin out of high school.
But BYU was his first offer following his freshman season in 2012 by then-offensive coordinator Brandon Doman.
The 6-foot-1, 200-pound signal caller elected to graduate early and participate in spring football and throwing the javelin for the Badgers. Following the departure of then-head coach Gary Andersen, Kafentzis transferred to Nevada without playing a down of competitive football for the Big Ten team.
The former four-star recruit was ruled ineligible to play for Nevada after a petition to the NCAA prior to the 2015 season. Following the Wolf Pack’s spring game, he appeared unlikely to crack then-head coach Brian Polian’s top-four quarterback depth chart and he subsequently transferred to Arizona Western.
At each of Kafentzis’ first two Division I destinations, the coaches who brought him in left the program before he was eligible to play a down of competitive football.
Kafentzis played sparingly as the No. 3 quarterback in 2016, completing just four passes for 15 yards for the 11-1 Matadors.
“It has been kind of a long road,” Kafentzis said. “I liked everything about what coach Sitake did, and how he treated his players. It’s basically a great school, and for track, as well. (Offensive coordinator Ty) Detmer and coach Sitake is an amazing duo for a quarterback. I liked everything about it.”