Taysom Hill wasn't playing during the BYU/Boise State game, but that didn't stop the Cougar student section from showing exactly how they felt about him. Late in the game, the fans held up hundreds of "4" signs, and the #DoItForTaysom hashtags were all over social media in the leadup to the game. If Hill never plays another down for BYU, he'll still be remembered for being an excellent QB, leader, and transformative athlete.
Because Hill barely played this season, if he wanted to, he would almost certainly be eligible for a medical redshirt, giving him another year of college eligibility. Hill himself hasn't commented on his future plans, and probably won't make a final decision any time soon, as he focuses on his recovery and getting healthy, but there's been plenty of speculation that he's played his last down of competitive football.
With his injury history and less-conventional QB style, it may be hard for Hill to get picked in the NFL Draft at all this season, and if he did, it would almost certainly be near the end. He's already 25 years old, will graduate from BYU this season, and has the ability to start a potentially very lucrative career in finance shortly after graduation. Plus, BYU now has Tanner Mangum at QB, and a return to BYU could trigger a potentially awkward QB competition. Do you delay Mangum's professional development with another year on the bench? Would you have an open battle? Take it from somebody who has been covering the Ohio State QB Derby for the past few months, that sort of position battle can become a major distraction.
But what if Taysom Hill decided he wanted to keep playing football, somewhere else?
This probably isn't the most likely scenario, but it isn't crazy.
Since Hill will have graduated from BYU before the start of next season, he'll be able to use the graduate transfer rule to switch to another FBS program and have immediate eligibility. If Hill was set on making the NFL as a quarterback, he might decide to switch to a different program where he might have different caliber teammates, or coaches that have more direct NFL ties. Even if the NFL wasn't on his radar, it's possible that he could do what many college basketball players do each year, and just transfer somewhere else where they wouldn't need to compete for a position, or just to experience a different stage.
Another possible aspect to consider would be academics. Give that Hill is a very smart guy, and has a bright future in the non-football world (whenever that is), getting a year of free graduate courses could also be appealing. If he loves football, why not take a year to get half an MBA, or other graduate work, for free, especially at an academically elite institution?
If you add all of that up, one school really stands out as a potential destination.
Would Michigan be interested? Unquestionably. Their current QB, former Iowa transfer Jake Rudock, leaves the program after this season. Another transfer, former Houston Cougar John O'Korn may be the favorite to take the job next year, but that certainly isn't secure. Michigan's best hope to take over the position long term, either Alex Malzone, or incoming freshman Brandon Peters, will both be very young next year. If a QB as decorated and talented as Hill came on the transfer market, the Wolverines would certainly be a team that could use a stop-gap senior leader.
And who coaches the Michigan Wolverines? In case you haven't heard, that would be Jim Harbaugh, who not only has a record of NFL excellence and production, but also has a previous positive relationship with Hill. Harbaugh recruited Hill heavily at Stanford, and according to Dan Wolken's feature on Hill over the offseason, Harbaugh had a major impact on Hill's life, well after he went to BYU instead.
Debilitated to the point he couldn't walk for weeks and inspired by a 45-minute phone conversation with current Michigan coach
Jim Harbaugh, who once recruited him to Stanford, Hill, a finance major at BYU's Marriott School of Management, threw himself into his studies and landed an internship at a venture capital firm that specializes in funding early-stage technology companies before they go public or even generate revenue and — hopefully — deliver a massive return on investment.
Doesn't seem like much of a stretch to think those two still think very highly of each other to be talking for 45 minutes when one doesn't play for the other.
Plus, speaking of academics, Michigan's business school (along with many other graduate disciplines) is an elite program, and while many use the graduate transfer rule just to flip to a better football program, Hill may be one of the rare players who might actually want to take advantage of an upgraded academic opportunity.
Of course, Michigan isn't the only school that fits that profile. Stanford nearly got Hill as a recruit in the first place (he committed there before BYU), and it boasts many of the same academic advantages, if not substantially more so, than Michigan, plus the Cardinal will also be looking for a QB, and may want a stopgap before the K.J Costello era begins. Hill would likely be able to compete for the starting job at many other Pac-12 institutions, to say nothing of the rest of the Power Five. Duke, Wisconsin, Boston College and others offer excellent academic opportunities as well, without the pressure of a Mangum caliber player as the backup.
This isn't to say that Hill is going to Michigan, or anywhere else at all. He could also decide to switch positions entirely (WR? TE? Safety?), and then may determine that BYU is the best football place for him. He might decide not to risk damaging his body anymore in football, and just move on to the next part of his life. He might decide to head straight into professional football. Heck, he could even decide to try and play QB at BYU for one more year, which could complicate things.
We're all just speculating right now. But if you look at everything, Hill playing QB somewhere else next season isn't the craziest idea in the world. And as much as it pains me to write this, given Hill's situation, it seems like Michigan could potentially be a great fit.