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PROVO, Utah (AP) — There was a point in BYU's victory over Houston when quarterback Taysom Hill barreled across the line of scrimmage for a hard-fought first down. He threw a fist in the air and roared in jubilation.
Hill has made a career of such plays where he tucks the ball, puts his head down and fearlessly plows downfield. "Whatever it takes," he said.
"I love playing this game. I love my teammates and I love battling for them."
With every dash and pass he makes, Hill's profile is on the rise — as is BYU's. Now 3-0 with victories over the Cougars and Texas the week before, BYU has jumped to No. 21 to prolong the team's first national ranking since early 2012. BYU hosts Virginia on Saturday afternoon.
Hill is the very archetype of the dual-threat quarterback. He's thrown for 689 yards and four touchdowns while running for 356 yards and six more scores over the team's first three games. That's 1,045 yards of total offense.
"When you talk about dual-threat, if you looked up a dual-threat quarterback in a dictionary, they should have his picture there as an example," Houston coach Tony Levine said.
Texas defensive coordinator Vance Bedford said BYU's quarterback reminds him of Tim Tebow. Hill threw for 181 yards and ran for 99 more with three touchdowns in BYU's 41-7 dismantling of the Longhorns.
"He is like a fullback when he gets the ball in his hands," Bedford said.
Hill has been named the FBS Independents' player of the week in each of the season's first three weeks and he's getting greater national attention with each game. He's handling it with his usual poise.
"Honestly, it's kind of hard because you're getting hit in every direction when that stuff comes up," he said. "I try to do my best to stay in the moment. We have to keep winning and we're going to get some great publicity for our program and our school. But I know in order for that to happen we just have to take care of business."
Against Houston, he threw for 200 yards and a touchdown, and rushed for 160 yards on 26 carries with another score. The performance put him over 4,000 yards passing and 2,000 yards rushing for his career, a feat only 14 other quarterbacks have accomplished in FBS history.
He's averaging 118.7 yards rushing per game this season, most among FBS-level quarterbacks. He also averages 348.3 yards of total offense per game.
And he doesn't mind all those carries.
"I would say my mindset is, whatever it takes," he said. "If I have to carry a ball 23 times a game, I'm willing to do that for our football team. As long as we get the 'W' I'm cool with that."
Last season as a sophomore, Hill had six games with 100-plus yards rushing. He finished with 4,282 yards in total offense, fifth on BYU's accomplished single-season list behind Steve Young, Jim McMahon and Ty Detmer (twice).
Originally committed to Stanford, Hill came to BYU instead following his LDS mission in Australia. He played in six games as a freshman, starting two, before a knee injury cut his season short.
When BYU played Virginia to open last season, the Cavaliers won 19-16 at home after a two-hour lightning delay following the first quarter. But seeing Hill up close convinced Virginia linebacker Henry Coley that the quarterback's name should be included in any Heisman conversation.
"I thought he should have been up there last year because he definitely put that team on his back, day in and day out. Even last year, he took some hits," Coley said. "I told him after the game, 'You got heart, man' because I don't want to say he is the team, but in my eyes, he kinda is the team because that sparked everything."
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