Loyal Cougars

The case for Taysom Hill returning to BYU

Last month, after BYU quarterback Taysom Hill went down with another season-ending injury in the first game of his senior season, BYU fans almost immediately began debating the best options for Hill and for BYU in 2016. Here are the four basic routes Hill can consider this winter:

  1. Seek a medical redshirt and return to play one more season for BYU as a graduate student.
  2. Enter the NFL draft.
  3. Seek a medical redshirt and play one more season at another school as a graduate transfer.
  4. Retire from football entirely.

None of these options appear to be out of the question for Hill, so here are some thoughts on each option.

Option #4 — Quit Football

If Hill decides he truly wants to walk away from football now then he should. The end.

But I suspect he’s not ready for that yet. He hasn’t had a string of brain injuries or anything like that and he is still a freakishly good athlete. If he is willing, the young man is certainly still capable of football greatness.

Option #3 — Transfer and play another year

This option is not without appeal if a big name program recruits him hard. But it is not without perils either. First, he’d have to learn an entirely new offensive system. Second, he’d have to form a new set of relationships with a new team in a short time, dealing with the quirks and politics of a new locker room where he is supposed to step in as the leader. Third, there is no guarantee he would win the starting job at his new school.

Basically, moving sucks. Hopefully that fact deters Taysom from transferring. I cringe at the thought of Hill leading some other school to gobs of glorious victories next season.

Option #2 — Enter the NFL draft

This one depends a lot on the feedback Hill gets from NFL folks. If he gets some basic assurances he’ll be drafted in the first 4-5 rounds of the draft, this might be the way to go. But absent those assurances, I suspect a full healthy year as a star college QB with his improved passing on display would help his draft stock tremendously, despite his age.

Option #1 — Triumphantly return to BYU

Assuming that Taysom’s draft prospects are questionable as expected, I contend that returning to BYU is Hill’s best bet and BYU’s best option as well.

Here are some of the reasons Hill’s returning is easily the best outcome for BYU:

  • Hill is a senior leader with an unmatched skill set. His dual threat capabilities alone could easily win BYU 2-3 extra games next season.
  • The 2016 schedule makes the 2015 schedule look relatively easy. 2016 looks stunningly difficult on paper. BYU needs all the freak athletes it can get.
  • Tanner Mangum need not sit out the year in 2016, even with Hill as the starting QB. With a little creativity the BYU staff could figure out a way to get Mangum meaningful reps even as Taysom reclaims his lost senior season.
  • Without Hill on the roster, where would BYU be next season if (heaven forbid) Mangum were to go down with a season ending injury? Answer: BYU would be hosed. With Hill and Mangum available, that meat grinder schedule seems much more manageable.

Here are some of the things returning to BYU would give Hill:

  • Another chance at that Heisman-contending season that fate (and bad luck) stole from him this year.
  • Another year to lead his band of brothers — probably including Jamaal Williams. As noted above, BYU would be vastly better off with Hill than without.
  • A chance to beat the Utes!
  • Returning to an offense he already knows inside and out. Plus next year he’d have a more experienced O-Line, an unusually talented stable of running backs (Williams, Canada, Brown, Bernard, and Burt), and another highly talented receiving corps.
  • A crack at several of the top college football programs in the country. The 2016 schedule includes Michigan State, Mississippi State, UCLA, West Virginia, Arizona, in addition to close-to-home rivals like Utah, Boise State, and Utah State.
  • One final chance to wow the NFL scouts with his arm strength, accuracy, and decision-making, while proving the injuries of the past were flukes.

I’ve seen some BYU fans worrying that Hill returning would hurt team chemistry or would stunt Tanner Mangum’s growth. I think those concerns are unfounded. Hill is an incredible leader that BYU players would happily rally around. And Mangum seems to be an unusually mature and humble athlete. Yes, Hill returning and staying healthy would limit Mangum’s reps next year, but Hill’s return would be vastly better for BYU and Mangum never planned on being a four-year starter to begin with.

BYU wanting Hill to return is a no-brainer. It is basically the equivalent of getting an extra year of Steve Young back in the 80’s. I’m just hoping that in the end Taysom Hill will agree that returning to BYU is his best option as well.


  1. Chris Allen

    October 19, 2015 at 6:08 pm

    Geoff, good write up! While I general agree with what you’re saying, I’m not sure if Tanner (at least if I were him) would be totally okay with being the man this year and then taking a back seat next. You mentioned he never planned on starting 4 years anyway, but I don’t think you can compare him being back up to Hill his frosh season, and the situation we have now. Don’t get me wrong, I love Taysom, and would welcome him back, I’m just not 100% convinced that all would be hunky-dory in BYU QB land if he did. Not because of immaturity or selfishness, just the odd circumstances, that’s all. I do, however, completely trust that he and the coaches will make the best informed decision for both Hill and the team.

    • Geoff Johnston

      October 19, 2015 at 7:47 pm

      Well it clearly would be somewhat of a sacrifice for Tanner to be the backup next year. As I mentioned, hopefully the coaches could mitigate that some by working out some way to get Tanner as many meaningful game reps as possible even if Taysom stays healthy all season.

      The thing is, BYU needs depth and everyone knows it. Next season more than ever. So hopefully Tanner would be willing sacrifice a bit for the good of the team. I suspect he would.

      I also don’t believe getting fewer reps his sophomore season will hinder his chances at an NFL career at all. I suspect the main impact might be that it will decrease his chances of breaking some of the all-time QB records at BYU.

      • Chris Allen

        October 19, 2015 at 8:28 pm

        I have terrible flashbacks of 2010 whenever I think about the 2 QB thing…but these two are definitely not Heaps/Nelson, especially I think the way the rest of the team feels about the two, they seem to respect and will gladly go to work for either or both. We’ll see what happens though, definitely not an easy decision for Taysom.

  2. Mark Willis

    October 21, 2015 at 12:24 am

    I think Taysom needs to hang it up for his own good, and possibly for BYU’s good. I’m not convinced returning is a great thing for BYU. Returning would create buzz, that’s it. Magnum has proven himself and earned the starting job. If Taysom returns to BYU, I’d be in favor of Tanner Magnum being the starting QB. Put Taysom in for some confusion, and even give him a few reps. Make teams gameplay for both players, but Tanner is BYU’s future.

    • Geoff Johnston

      October 21, 2015 at 7:32 pm

      When Taysom retires from football is entirely his decision. If he does return, it will be with intention to start at QB. And as good as Tanner is, I don’t think Tanner would beat out Taysom for the starting job next fall.

  3. Dereck Smith

    October 21, 2015 at 9:11 am

    1) There is no way Taysom would get drafted at this point. He has as many season ending injuries as he has 300 yard passing games.

    2)If he plays one more year it will be for the love of the game and possibly team. If plays next year it will either be for BYU or if not there, Michigan. Can you imagine Michigan with Taysom Hill at QB?

    3)While I don’t think it would matter to Hill, if he comes back to BYU there will be a legitimate QB competition. While Taysom would be the favorite, it would be a legitimate competition.

    4) I am glad no one has suggested here that Hill pull a “Braxton Miller” and change positions. Other blogs and websites have brought up the possibility. Hill is a phenomenal athlete, but he is a QB. If he played RB, or TE or something like that he would no doubt be good, but he doesn’t have a decade of experience at those positions. It is that experience that elevates Taysom from a “great athlete” to a much more select group of great “college football player” (which is a much more select group)

    • Geoff Johnston

      October 21, 2015 at 7:30 pm

      I agree that it is likely QB or nothing for Taysom.

  4. Ladd

    October 24, 2015 at 12:02 pm

    There is one option you missed. Taysom stays and plays safety. I watched him play safety in high-school. He has the skil set for it. He could still help if tanner went down. He would still provide leadership. Honestly safety is less impact full on your body as well as it being a more natural nfl position for him.

    • Geoff Johnston

      October 27, 2015 at 11:56 am

      While that is certainly possible, it seemed so unlikely to me that I didn’t include it in my list.