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Patrick Kinahan: BYU provides Kedon Slovis final NFL audition

Pittsburgh quarterback Kedon Slovis (9) passes against Virginia Tech during the first half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Oct. 8, 2022, in Pittsburgh.

Pittsburgh quarterback Kedon Slovis (9) passes against Virginia Tech during the first half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Oct. 8, 2022, in Pittsburgh. (Keith Srakocic, Associated Press)

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PROVO — One final chance to impress potential future employers, that's the reality for Kedon Slovis going into his last college football season.

BYU's presumptive starting quarterback has had a checkered career thus far, beginning with a scintillating debut as a freshman at USC and then playing through an unsatisfying one-season stint across the country at Pittsburgh. He comes west to the Rocky Mountains determined to prove worthy of a shot at the NFL.

"We've seen him at his best and it's our job to get him back to that level or higher," BYU offensive coordinator Aaron Roderick said during a radio interview on The Zone. "I welcome that challenge. I'm excited about that. We've all seen what we can do, so let's get him back there."

As a freshman out of Phoenix, Slovis was expected to serve as a backup to sophomore JT Daniels. Taking over in the first game after Daniels suffered a season-ending injury, Slovis completed 71.9% of his passes for 3,502 yards and 30 touchdowns against only nine interceptions with quarterback rating of 167.6.

He played well during the abbreviated six-game COVID slate but struggled with injury issues in 2021, a season in which coach Clay Helton was fired in September. His decision to transfer to Pittsburgh fell far short of expectations for reasons the BYU coaches believe was beyond his control.

But the subpar season didn't stop the BYU coaches from jumping at the chance to land Slovis out of the transfer portal last December. Roderick explained away Slovis' problems at Pittsburgh, noting a change in coordinators before last season led to a different offense.

"It was not exactly what he had signed up for," Roderick said. "All of a sudden, they're in a new offense where he was under center all the time. I just don't think it was an accurate reflection of how good of a player he still is."

In 2021, Mark Whipple's offense ranked eighth nationally in passing at 337.4 yards per game. Quarterback Kenny Pickett was drafted in the first round and became the starter for the Pittsburgh Steelers last season as a rookie.

With an offense that operates mostly out of the shotgun, Roderick believes Slovis will be more comfortable playing for the Cougars. And it's worth noting BYU desperately needed an experienced quarterback after Jaren Hall declared for the NFL and Jacob Conover transferred to Arizona State.

BYU targeted Slovis all along, to the point of Roderick making a recruiting trip to Pittsburgh in December. The program's recent quarterback success and move to the Big 12 next season helped ward off interest Slovis got from other Power Five conferences.

"He was highly coveted," Roderick said. "The first day that the transfer portal opened, he had what you'd call, I guess, blue bloods or whatever. He had at least two SEC offers that I know of that both involved NIL money and the whole deal. They were big-time programs, talking about a couple of places that won national championships.

"There were a couple of Pac-12 schools that really wanted him," he added. "A couple of Big Ten schools that really wanted him. And all of these places involved NIL money and the whole deal."

So far during winter workouts and through the first day of spring practice, Slovis has been impressed with the receivers, including returners Chase Roberts, Keanu Hill and Kody Epps. Tight end Isaac Rex is also fully recovered from a compound leg fracture he suffered in the last game of the 2021 season.

"The receivers here probably know the offense better than any receiving corps I have ever been around," Slovis said.

The Cougars also added powerful running back Aidan Robinson, who rushed for 1,011 yards last season at UNLV. They continue to mine the portal for an additional receiver or two.

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Patrick is a radio host for 97.5/1280 The Zone and the Zone Sports Network. He, along with David James, are on the air Monday-Friday from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m.


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