When Bronco Mendenhall and many of the former BYU Cougars coaching staff announced they were heading to the University of Virginia, a void was left for a short period of time as recruits waited to see who the new head coach and his staff would be. This crack in the armor allowed the University of Utah to squeeze through in an effort to persuade committed Cougars to look elsewhere.
“To see that even though I was committed ,the Utah coaches still wanted me that badly [was intriguing],” said Maple Mountain (UT) HS quarterback Jaren Hall. “They loved me just as much if not more than the old coaching staff, and I could tell they really wanted me. So, I figured with how crazy college football is I would go give it a chance. As I continued to go up there for visits and talking with the coaches at Utah I slowly found myself being more and more intrigued. Coach Whittingham and Coach Roderick do an amazing job as well. There’s nothing against them in my decision, but in the end I had to go with my heart.”
The historic hiring of Tongan head coach Kalani Sitake at BYU helped stem the tide for Hall. Coach Sitake brought in Ilaisa Tuiaki, also from Oregon State, as his defensive coordinator and Ty Detmer as BYU's new offensive coordinator and the three went to town, hitting the recruiting trail hard to make up for lost time. Coach Detmer and Sitake made a big effort to bring the focus of BYU back into the mind of Jaren Hall. In the end their efforts paid off.
“After the coaching switch and we found out that Coach Kalani Sitake and Coach Ty Detmer was going to come in they came right at me from the get go!” said Hall. “They were calling me, making house visits, and letting me know how much they would love for me to be a part of the program. You know, BYU is somewhere where I’ve always wanted to play, especially under amazing coaches like them. With the visit this past week I’ll be playing with kids that I’ve grown up with and know, and then being with these coaches, just reassured that BYU is where I needed to be.”
That feeling of where he should attend college came by way of prayer.
“The number one thing was through prayer and getting down on my knees,” Hall said. “I give thanks to my Heavenly Father for everything that he’s given to me. He gave me a clear answer through the Spirit, and I know this will benefit me in the long run outside of football as well. It’s just a great feeling to know that I got an answer that wasn’t just based on what.”
Then Hall took an official visit to BYU. He was able to better connect with the coaches and those that would become future teammates.
“The highlight was being around the guys that I’ll be playing with that I grew up with or played against,” said Hall. “It’s really cool to know that we’re all coming together at BYU after we all serve a faithful, two-year mission for our Lord to compete at a high level. We’ll continue to be family here at BYU and even years after. It’s just a blessing to know that I’ll be able to continue those relationships and experiences at a college that I love.”
It was during his official visit to BYU that Jaren Hall reconfirmed to the BYU coaches that he would be a BYU Cougar.
“Well I actually told them on my official visit,” said Hall. “I told them that I was ready. They were all happy and smiling and welcoming me to the Cougar family. It was a great experience and I couldn’t be happier.”
Jaren's brother, walk-on BYU wide receiver K.J. Hall, was his host and the two had fun together thinking about what it’s going to be like playing football together at a college their father Kalin Hall Sr. played at back in the 1990’s.
“Yeah, my brother [K.J. Hall] was my host on my trip and we had a blast,” said Hall. “It was a good time. I really was. We just didn’t worry about anything and just had fun hanging out with the other guys and we had a blast.
“It’s just that it’s a blessing to be able to play at the college level with my brother and where my dad first started it all for the family. Not a lot of people get a chance to do this, especially in college football let alone high school football. To be able to play football with your brother and best friend in high school and in college is a great blessing to me. It’s an honor to be able to play on the big stage with him and I couldn’t be happier.”
Jaren Hall will leave to serve a two-year LDS mission prior to enrolling at BYU where he’ll become the first African American quarterback to play at BYU for the first Tongan head coach in NCAA history.
“Yeah, it’s going to be an amazing experience and I can’t wait,” said Hall. “It’s an honor and a blessing to be able to play at BYU and for someone like Coach Sitake and Ty Detmer. This is an amazing staff and I couldn’t be more excited to play for them when I return home.”