You may think you already know all about Taysom Hill, but as the junior quarterback readies himself to lead the Cougars into a new season, it is worth a quick look back at his accomplishments, and his struggles, before we look forward.
Taysom Hill (named after Pocatello, Idaho's Taysom Rotary Park) is the youngest of Doug and Natalie Hill's four children. Older brothers Jordan and Dexter also played college football-Jordan was a defensive tackle at Arizona State, and Dexter a quarterback at Scottsdale Community College, Northern Iowa and Dixie State.
As a high school quarterback in Pocatello, Idaho, Hill led the Highland Rams to a state title in 2008, finishing the year with 2269 yards and 18 touchdowns. A multi-sport high school athlete, Hill also lettered in track & field and basketball-but football was where he made his mark. He finished his high school career ranked as the 30th best quarterback prospect by Scout.com and Rivals.com.
Recruited by Arizona, Washington State, Oregon State, Boise State and Utah, Hill committed to Stanford before leaving to serve an LDS mission in Sydney, Australia.
It would be four years before Hill would play football again, and it would never be as a Stanford Cardinal.
Hill's collegiate career started off perfectly. On August 30, 2012, Hill threw his first pass as a Cougar. It was an 18 yard touchdown pass against Washington State in the season opener. Hill played five more games before being injured in the final moments of the Utah State game. The season ending lateral collateral injury on his left knee would require surgery, and Riley Nelson returned as BYU's quarterback.
Hill began the 2013 season not only having recovered from an injury, but having to learn a new offensive scheme installed by a new offensive coaching staff. It was difficult for Hill and he started the season with inconsistency, completing less than 40 percent of his passes the first three games. The Texas game saw poor passing performance from Hill as he completed only 9 of 26 attempts, and had a season low efficiency of 68.60. The rushing game, however, was a different story as Hill ran for 259 yards (including a long 68 yard touchdown run) and the Cougars beat the Longhorns 40-21.
Hill's efficiency rating over the next four games steadily improved (78.83 against Utah, 141.41 against Middle Tennessee, 155.65 at Utah State, and 158.50 against Georgia Tech) leading to an explosive performance against Houston, where Hill's passing efficiency peaked at 161.88. He threw for 417 yards and rushed for 128, leading BYU to a 47-46 victory over Houston.
The victory saw the Cougars run a record breaking 115 offensive plays, the most in a single game at BYU, and tying for the most in FBS history. The offense converted 41 first downs, breaking another school record. Hill's 545 yards of total offense ranks him No. 9 all time at BYU, and his 128 rushing yards took him to No. 3 on the list of BYU quarterback rushers, passing greats like Steve Young, Virgil Carter, and Eldon Fortie.
Hill finished last season with 4,282 yards of total offense, ranking him No. 8 nationally. He is one of only seven players in NCAA history to throw for more than 400 yards and rush more than 100 yards in the same game. He is the top rushing quarterback in BYU history, is ranked No. 3 in BYU history for most rushing yards in one season (1344), and No. 5 at BYU for most offensive yards in a season (4282). Only Steve Young, Jim McMahon and Ty Detmer have racked up more yards (Detmer did it twice).
And he did all this as a sophomore.
As Hill prepares to lead the Cougars into the 2014 season, he does so with high hopes, high expectations, and lots of national attention, including:
- 2014 Heisman Trophy watch list / HeismanPundit.com
- 2014 Top 25 College Football Players / Sporting News
- 2014 Players to Watch / Touchdown Club of Columbus
- 2014 Top Heisman Candidates / NFL.com
- 2014 Maxwell Award watch list
- 2014 College Football Performance Awards Quarterback Trophy watch list
- Allstate AFCA Good Works Team
- Davey O'Brien Award watch list
- Walter Camp Award watch list
Braden Gall of Athlon Sports says that Hill has an "Elite combination of size, power and athleticism that most quarterbacks only dream about. His ability to embarrass defenses with his feet is obvious...but it's is continued development as a passer that makes him a Heisman contender."
The Daily Herald reports that When Steve Young was asked what he thought of Hill, he responded by saying "I see a better me."
And Sporting News' Matt Hayes says, "Once he gets more comfortable as a thrower, he could develop into the game's best player. He's that talented."
If Hill is to live up to the expectations, three things need to improve from last year.
- More Consistency. No sub-40 percent passing games. In fact, no games under 60.
- Fewer Interceptions. Hill threw for 19 touchdowns last year, and 14 interceptions.
- Healthy Receivers. Someone has to catch those fast-pitches that Hill loves to throw, and last year the Cougars lost Ross Apo and Mitch Mathews to season ending injuries.