PROVO — BYU’s quarterback room is getting a little less crowded.
After BYU opened spring camp with as many as eight quarterbacks, former Pine View High standout Kody Wilstead has been granted a release to transfer away from the program, BYU coach Kalani Sitake told reporters after practice Monday.
“We want him to have success, and we’ll support him any way we can,” Sitake said. “I talked with him and have been able to sit down with him. It was a really positive conversation, but I think he wants to get on the field as soon as possible.”
Wilstead is the second quarterback to leave BYU since the end of the 2017 season, joining Koy Detmer Jr., the Cougars' third-string QB who intends to enroll at Division II Texas A&M Kingsville.
The 6-foot-6 pro-style quarterback from St. George returned from a two-year mission for the LDS Church in Argentina prior to the 2017 season, but redshirted in his first season back as he ran the scout-team offense.
“He loves football, and he’s been a great support and teammate to our players,” Sitake said. “I wish him the best, but I’ll help him out as much as possible.”
Wilstead’s decision to redshirt, though, wasn’t always mutually understandable. Former BYU offensive coordinator Ty Detmer said Wilstead hoped to play as the Cougars were evaluating who to replace Tanner Mangum after his season-ending Achilles’ injury last November.
“He wants to have an opportunity to play if one’s there,” Detmer said at the time. “We’re not worried too much about redshirts for those guys. I think experience is more important.”
BYU ended up going with fellow returned missionary quarterback Joe Critchlow while backup Beau Hoge was also nursing injuries, as well. The redheaded signal caller led the Cougars to road wins at UNLV and Hawaii, in addition to a 16-10 home loss to UMass.
In the offseason, BYU switched things up by replacing Detmer with former Louisiana State offensive line coach Jeff Grimes at offensive coordinator.
“Offensively, we just added a bunch,” Sitake said. “I’m not used to seeing an offense add that much in the first week, and I’ve been really pleased with the way the players have grasped all the new stuff.”
Wilstead totaled 9,654 passing yards and 92 touchdowns for the Panthers. A former three-star recruit by 247 Sports, Wilstead received interest from Louisville but committed to BYU the summer before his senior year to ward off additional recruiting calls.
In addition to Wilstead and Mangum, who will not practice in full with BYU as he recovers from offseason Achilles' tendon surgery, BYU quarterbacks on the dawn of spring practice include Hoge, Critchlow, sophomore Hayden Griffitts, and freshmen Baylor Romney, Stacy Conner and Zach Wilson. Former Maple Mountain star Jaren Hall is also expected to join the BYU quarterback room upon returning from his mission in California.
“I’d rather have too many than none,” Sitake said. “I want the best players here, and if it hurts some people’s feelings, then so be it. That’s part of football.
“I don’t believe in manipulating the depth chart. The depth chart is always settled on the field."
Mangum on the mend
The incumbent starter hasn’t practiced much since the start of spring football. But one month removed from surgery to repair a torn Achilles' tendon, Tanner Mangum addressed the topic of his health Monday.
“Every day is getting better and every week feels better,” Mangum said. “I’m working with the training staff and the strength staff. But I’m happy with where we are at.
“It’s been a test of patience.”
Stop fighting; coach said so
Overall, Sitake has been pleased with the way the 4-9 Cougars have responded to a new offensive coaching staff and philosophy in the first week.
But not everything is perfect, he admitted when pressed.
“There isn’t really anything I’m disappointed about,” Sitake said. “If I had to pick one, it’s probably a bit too chippy and wasting my time with all the fighting.
“We’ll get that fixed.”