PROVO - With former three-year starting quarterback John Beck literally casting a shadow over them, Max Hall and Cade Cooper on Monday officially began a competition that could stretch into August.
After Brigham Young's first day of spring practice, coach Bronco Mendenhall said the race to replace Beck - who stood along the sidelines Monday - may extend into fall camp. For now, based on one year's experience in the system, Hall is the front-runner.
Mendenhall emphasized that Hall's advantage is "slight, slight, slight."
"Our intent is to try to give equal reps to the one and two quarterback and then evaluate periodically through spring," he said, "and hopefully a starter will emerge. We'll wait as long as necessary to find one."
Two years ago, faced with a similar situation between Beck and Matt Berry, Mendenhall didn't announce a starter until after spring practices ended. His purpose was to appoint a team leader going into summer workouts.
The race this spring likely will be too close to call after all 15 practices.
"We'll wait 'til there's a clear leader that emerges," Mendenhall said.
Working with the first-team offense during the scrimmage portions of the first practice, Hall completed 13 of 18 passes for 130 yards and a touchdown. Per NCAA rules, the players were not in full pads.
Cooper completed 10 of 18 passes for 75 yards. Several of his throws were dropped.
In separate interviews, both players used the term "perfection" when asked what it would take to succeed Beck.
"They're big on perfection in every aspect," said Cooper, who wore jersey No. 6.
Both players begin the race at virtually the same starting point.
A transfer from Arizona State, Hall ran BYU's scout offense last season. But he hasn't played in a real game since his senior year of high school more than three years ago.
Cooper joined BYU's team two months ago, but he gained experience as the starter for Snow College. Last season, he passed for nearly 3,000 yards and 29 touchdowns.
"Things went well, I thought, for the first day," Cooper said. "I feel like it's a great opportunity. It's open. It's just going to be fun to compete."
The nephew of former Arizona State and Dallas Cowboys quarterback Danny White, Hall believes his experience in BYU's system has provided an advantage. Hall said he learned a lot from Beck, who set numerous BYU records, last season.
During home games last season, he sat in the press box with several assistant coaches.
Since enrolling in school last August, he's worked to establish a relationship with his teammates on offense. Mendenhall and offensive coordinator Robert Anae place a premium on leadership skills.
"I feel like it's my job," Hall said. "Everything is starting to slow down for me. I want perfection."
Mendenhall, whose T-shirt reflected the team motto of "Raise the Bar," said some of the purposes of spring practice include gauging the team's retention from last fall and assessing new talent.
Several players joined the team in January or have returned from LDS Church missions.
"We have our spring model already planned out, but a lot of it has to do with where our team currently is," he said. "I liked what I saw today. They're eager, and they're competitive."
* Max Hall completed 13 of 18 passes for 130 yards and a touchdown.
* Cade Cooper completed 10 of 18 passes for 75 yards.