SALT LAKE CITY — BYU football coaches can take a measure of satisfaction, as they should, after securing the commitment of a highly touted quarterback out of Arizona.
Jacob Conover, a junior at Chandler High, ranks as a four-star player and has been considered BYU’s prime recruit going into next season. After finishing his high school career he is expected to serve a church mission before enrolling at BYU.
For all the negative news that has surrounded the program coming off a disastrous 4-9 season that resulted in overhauling the offensive staff, BYU desperately needs a jolt of positive. It came in the form of Conover, who spurned hometown Arizona State and Alabama, among a host of others, and made his intentions known on Mother’s Day.
Known for his precision and accuracy, Conover has all the credentials to justify the numerous scholarship offers and high star ranking. In leading Chandler to a state championship, he completed 164-of-248 passes for 3,077 yards with 32 touchdowns and only two interceptions.
“He just knows how to win,” Chandler High coach Shaun Aguano said in an interview with 97.5-FM and 1280-AM The Zone. “In big games, he comes up strong and just makes things happen.”
But in a dose of reality, the BYU faithful probably should pump the brakes on anointing Conover another great Cougar quarterback. The truth is, as history shows, star high school quarterbacks often don’t match their success in college.
In researching the quarterbacks invited to participate in the Elite 11 camps, success rates are not pretty. Over a five-year period from 2010-2014, only nine of the quarterbacks were taken in the NFL draft.
The two most prominent quarterbacks during the five years are Deshaun Watson (2013) and Jameis Winston (2011), who shared co-MVP honors with BYU’s Tanner Mangum.
Former UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen, whom the Arizona Cardinals drafted with the 10th pick of the first round last month, highlights the Elite 11 class of 2014. Three quarterbacks were drafted ahead of Rosen, none of whom were listed as being invited to the Elite 11 camp.
At least 29 of the quarterbacks never made an impact at their original school and ended up transferring. Several of these quarterbacks transferred multiple times.
While Conover’s fate awaits in the coming years, his commitment appears solid. The earliest he could sign is in December but would have the opportunity to go elsewhere after returning from his mission, as Taysom Hill did after signing with Stanford out of high school and then deciding to enroll at BYU after he got home.
“This is definitely an absolute” Aguano said. “He’s a very loyal kid, very mature for his age. We’ve sat down numerous times in talking about commitment. (Chandler players) understand whenever they make a commitment it’s going to be 100 percent. He’s prayed about it and come to me with his family a couple of times, so this is definitely 100 percent.”
Conover is the latest in the line of outstanding Chandler football players. Former quarterbacks from the suburban Phoenix school include current Green Bay Packer Brett Hundley and Bryce Perkins, who is pushing to start for Bronco Mendenhall at Virginia.
In addition to 15 current players with college scholarship offers, six Chandler alumni are in the NFL. Incoming BYU freshman Gunner Romney is a player Aguano anticipates seeing action this season at wide receiver. Romney’s brother, Tate, is a highly regarded linebacker at Chandler.
Despite a shaky history for many high school quarterbacks, Aguano expects Conover to excel in college. At 6-foot-1, 201 pounds, he will only get stronger over time.
“For a high school quarterback he’s very strong,” Aguano said, “but I just think the weight room and everything else will get him stronger in the future.”