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PROVO — Taysom Hill gave BYU fans a glimpse of what he was capable of in 2012.
Hill played in six games and was 2-0 as the starting quarterback. He completed 42-of-71 passes for 425 yards and four touchdowns, and rushed 55 times for 336 yards and four scores, including a sensational 68-yard touchdown run against Hawaii.
"Taysom Hill is a very talented quarterback," said BYU quarterbacks Coach Jason Beck. "He has some very good athleticism — can make plays with his feet — but he can also really throw the ball. He's accurate. He's got great touch on the deep throws. I think he'll be a great BYU quarterback."
Hill has also impressed his new offensive coordinator.
"I think Taysom Hill would be a great quarterback in any offense," said BYU offensive coordinator and assistant head coach Robert Anae. "I think he can go to any program and start."
The coaches are glad the program he chose is BYU. They are excited about the potential they have in their sophomore quarterback who came to BYU after originally signing with Stanford before serving an LDS mission.
You can't help but wonder what would have happened last year if his season wasn't cut short. He suffered a knee injury late in a 6-3 win over Utah State that required surgery, ending a promising freshman year.
I realize it's an honor, so I make sure I work as hard as I can to live up to it.
He's spent months rehabbing the injury and is now ready to continue what he started.
"It's a unique challenge," he said about his recovery. "As hard as it was, physically, it was probably harder mentally. I went from starting against Hawaii and Utah State to nothing, where I was on the sidelines watching the Oregon State game. I watched the Notre Dame game at my house. It was hard. I didn't feel a part of the team."
There were positives that came from the experience, though. BYU quarterbacks will no longer take on linebackers. Coaches have stressed the importance of sliding or getting out of bounds to avoid unnecessary contact. It was also an opportunity for Hill to observe and improve the mental aspect of playing quarterback.
He is preparing for his first full season as the starting quarterback at BYU. He's well aware of the focus and attention placed on the quarterback position and the greats that preceded him.
"I realize it's an honor, so I make sure I work as hard as I can to live up to it," he said about his enormous responsibility.
His work ethic and the way he carries himself on and off the field has made an impression on his teammates. He has the respect of seniors who have no problem looking to the sophomore quarterback for leadership.
"When you have somebody with his talents at quarterback and athleticism and willing to compete and put it on the line, you can't go wrong with that," said wide receiver Cody Hoffman. "Someone you know is smart. You know he will make the right read and he'll discipline himself if he doesn't. In the past, I've played with quarterbacks that would try to blame everybody else for their mistakes and that gets frustrating, and that has been the cause of divides on the team."
"You know he cares about you," said senior receiver J.D. Falslev. "You know what he expects of you and you know what you are getting with Taysom Hill, plain and simple. For us to have that and all the intangibles that he brings to the table is a very special thing, and I'm more than excited to see where he goes."
Hill and his teammates will face one of the most difficult schedules in program history. He views it as an opportunity and welcomes the challenge of leading them along the way.
"I don't feel anxious or any anxiety about looking at the schedule because I know we have the talent to compete with every one of those teams on there," he said. "So my mindset is opportunity. We have an opportunity at BYU to do something that not many people have, so I'm excited about it. It's making me work that much harder to get my knee where it needs to be. I'm looking forward to the experience."