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September 7, 2012It didn't take Taysom Hill long to endear himself to BYU fans. On Hill's first play as a BYU Cougar, he took the snap, rolled right and hit Kaneakua Friel for an 18-yard touchdown. It sounds easy, but a lot had to happen for the freshman to get his chance.
Back in 2009, Hill was the 30th ranked high school quarterback in the country. Hill made sure schools knew he planned to serve a 24 month LDS Mission, and when the Stanford Cardinal offered him a chance to play, he committed. It's tough to pass up a free education at one of the countries top universities, while also having the opportunity to play football in the Pac-12. Hill left on a mission before enrolling at Stanford in 2009. It was while serving a mission that Hill started to question if Stanford was the best school for him. Stanford has a policy that freshman can only join the team in June. Hill wasn't scheduled to be released from his mission until the fall of 2011, and the coaches at Stanford gave him two options: (1) come home from your mission five months early and play in the 2011 season, (2) finish your mission and wait until June 2012 and join the team then. Neither optioned appealed to Hill and he started looking at other options elsewhere.
After seeking out BYU and learning he had an opportunity to play, (and could enroll in January) Hill committed to the Cougars. This was April 2011 and the Cougars were loaded at the quarterback position. Starter Jake Heaps was coming off an impressive finish to his freshman season and was set to be the starter for three more seasons. Backups Riley Nelson, Jason Munns and James Lark were on the roster and ready to compete for playing time. BYU had also just committed highly regarded high school quarterbacks Tanner Mangum and Alex Kuresa. With six potential quarterbacks on the roster, it is hard to imagine why Hill would take the chance of coming to BYU.
Things have changed since April 2011. Heaps transferred to the University of Kansas, Mangum is grayshirting before serving a mission, Kuresa has moved to wide receiver this season before he leaves to serve a mission, Riley Nelson has become the starter, while Munns and Lark are serviceable quarterbacks, neither offer's the athleticism of Taysom Hill.
Hill looks to be a bigger, faster version of Riley Nelson. Upon enrolling last January, Hill immediately stood out from the pack with his athleticism and hard work. The coaches couldn't keep him off the field and knew they needed to find ways to get him the ball.
Cougarnation.com had an opportunity to talk with Hill about his first play and what this upcoming season might hold for him. "It wasn't the call that we had in the huddle, but when I came to the line of scrimmage they were stacked in the box, and it was easy to see. So I made an audible and changed the play. Luckily it worked out." This is a telling comment about the quarterback who once committed to Stanford. He is smart; Hill puts in the time off the field to be successful. If Hill is unfazed by his first football snap, recognizes the defense, and changes to a play he thinks will be more successful, he must be willing to put in the requisite time to be successful. Hill looked great in his first game as a Cougar. When asked if we will see him in more blue-zone situations this season, Hill smiled and laughed, "I hope so, and I think we should. We ran and executed it well."