Jaren Hall’s moment has arrived. The Vikings breaks silence.

Jaren Hall’s moment has arrived. The Vikings breaks silence.

Jaren Hall, drafted by the Vikings in the fifth round out of BYU in April, described himself as “a very chill individual.”

The Brigham Young University football team began its 2019 spring camp in the midst of a quarterback battle. Zach Wilson, the strong-armed sophomore who’d thrown 182 passes as a freshman, was trying to hold off Jaren Hall, the graceful 20-year-old redshirt freshman who was also the starting center fielder on the Cougars’ baseball team.

The BYU coaches called for a competitive scrimmage that March 19: Wilson would quarterback one team, Hall would lead the other, and the scoreboard would show a winner and a loser at the end of it.

Hall threw a touchdown pass at the end of the scrimmage to beat Wilson’s team, and then he was gone. The BYU baseball team was in a tie game with Utah Valley five miles away, and Hall drove there in time to enter the game in the ninth inning. In the top of the 10th, his single drove in the go-ahead run. The Cougars won, 14-13.

“He’s just a great competitor,” BYU offensive coordinator Aaron Roderick recalled. “He’s just a dude, and that was one of the coolest things ever.”

The coaching staff picked Wilson, who would hold the job for another two years before the Jets took him second overall in the 2021 draft. They made the choice in part out of concern Hall would wear out playing two sports; it wasn’t until he dropped baseball in 2021 that he became the starter. But the competition with Wilson confirmed to him, and reminded his coaches, he wouldn’t be frightened by the stage.

During Wilson’s accolade-filled 2020 season, Roderick said, “I think the light really clicked on for Jaren like, ‘Hey, I can do this, too.’ He never said those words to me, but I think he thought, ‘I’m just as good as this guy, and I can do this.’ ”

Hall’s first NFL start, after the Vikings drafted him in the fifth round in April, will ask him to meet an even higher quarterbacking standard with less time to prepare. He faces the Falcons in Atlanta a week after Kirk Cousins was lost for the season because of a torn right Achilles tendon. The Vikings won four of their five games in October to return to .500 with Cousins doing some of his best work; Hall will become the first Vikings rookie to start at quarterback since Teddy Bridgewater in 2014. The Vikings, though, are hoping they can craft a plan to support Hall and count on the 25-year-old’s calm demeanor to get them through it.

“It’s going to be different,” coach Kevin O’Connell said. “I’ve tried to spend a lot of time with Jaren, not just this week but since he’s arrived here, to learn more about him. I was watching him real closely the other day [in Green Bay] when he went in the game: how he came off, how he was on the sideline. All that led me to believe Jaren’s ready for this moment.”

He’s not guaranteed a long run as the starter. The Vikings acquired Joshua Dobbs from the Cardinals in a trade-deadline deal and could get Nick Mullens back from injured reserve as soon as next week, provided he’s recovered from the low back injury that’s kept him out the past three games.

Even with Cousins’ injury, the Vikings decided not to trade away pending free agents like NFC defensive player of the month Danielle Hunter this week, retaining a core of veterans that had told General Manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah they wanted to pursue a playoff berth together. It stands to reason that the Vikings won’t play quarterbacks for developmental purposes; if Hall is going to make a second start, it will likely be because he performs well enough to keep the job.

 

After being Kirk Cousins’ backup for less than a month, Jaren Hall (16) will make his first NFL start against the Falcons in Atlanta on Sunday.

Those who believe he’s ready for the job cite his poise as the chief reason for their confidence.

“I think I’m a very chill individual, but when it comes to the game of football and being prepared, I think it’s taking it little by little,” Hall said. “You take the small things until you build up to game day, and I think that’s where the confidence and calmness comes from.”

The way he leads

Those same traits caught Roderick’s attention during a 7-on-7 passing camp, when Hall was a sophomore at Maple Mountain High School in Spanish Fork, Utah, and Roderick was an assistant at the University of Utah.

“He took a team that wasn’t that good all the way to the championship game, and I just followed him around all day,” Roderick said.

Hall’s clean, compact mechanics helped make up for his lack of size (he’s now listed at 6-0, 207 pounds), and his accuracy impressed Roderick.

“What I noticed that day was the way he was leading his team,” he said. “It just comes natural to him. I think sometimes leaders try too hard. He has found that fine line between being able to speak up when something needs to be said, but he’s not a guy who’s beating his chest and drawing attention to himself.”

Roderick was unsuccessful in recruiting Hall to Utah, but he became the passing game coordinator and quarterbacks coach at BYU in 2018, the same year Hall returned from a mission in California with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

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