Early in the first half of Brigham Young's 43-9 victory over Murray State last season, Cougars quarterback Kevin Feterik, then a junior, paced the sideline, filled with self-doubt. Only moments earlier he had been booed after losing a fumble. When backup quarterback Drew Miller trotted onto the field for BYU's next series, the home crowd cheered. "I felt lower than low," says Feterik. "I stood on the sideline asking myself, Do I suck? How bad do I suck? Am I the worst quarterback ever to play here?"
Since 1976 the Cougars have had five quarterbacks who were All-Americas, three who received the Davey O'Brien Award as the nation's top quarterback and one—Ty Detmer, in 1990—who won the Heisman Trophy. Given all the success it's no wonder Brigham Young fans have lofty expectations of their quarterbacks, and Feterik wasn't the first to hear their displeasure. In '85, a year after quarterback Robbie Bosco had led BYU to a 13-0 record and its only national title, Cougars fans booed him during a 28-21 win over Air Force. "It was pretty shocking to me when it happened, and it hurt for a while, but that's all part of being a quarterback at BYU," says Bosco, now Brigham Young's quarterbacks coach. "I tried to tell Kevin that he's not the only one it happened to and that it was up to him to turn a negative into a positive."
Feterik did. "I went through the worst five weeks of my life last year," he says, alluding to BYU's 2-3 start. "I asked myself if I was going to crumble and transfer or be strong and stick it out I decided I was going to be the quarterback whether the fans liked it or not." After alternating series with Miller in a 31-21 loss to Fresno State in Game 5, Feterik regained the job outright the following week by throwing for 319 yards in a win over UNLV. By season's end, he had passed for 2,718 yards and 16 touchdowns and was named second team All-WAC.
The 6-foot, 190-pound Feterik has been even more productive this season. In the Cougars' opener, a 35-28 defeat of Washington, he threw for 500 yards and three touchdowns. Last week, in a 29-0 victory over UNLV, Feterik completed 22 of 42 passes for 257 yards and a TD. For the season he has thrown for 2,285 yards and 18 touchdowns for the 6-1 Cougars.
BYU's LaVell Edwards, who has coached the likes of Jim McMahon, Steve Young and Detmer, says Feterik is one of the most accurate passers he has ever had. "Kevin was forced to play before he was ready," says Edwards. "Around here people remember how quarterbacks ended up, not how they started. Steve and Ty went through some tough times and fought through it. Kevin has done the same and has a chance to be in the same class."