Taysom Hill is many things, his roles are a mixed stack and he’s endured lofty expectations since his high school days and becoming the youngest in the train of athletic brothers Jordan and the late Dex Hill. Now he is taking on the role of lab rat for the biggest sports company on the planet.
Nike is using Hill’s foot to build a specific shoe to enable him to compete at the highest level following his injury, surgery and rehabilitation from a freak Lisfranc fracture suffered against Nebraska in BYU’s 2015 opener in Lincoln.
Hill told reporters during BYU’s Football Media Day Thursday he was two thumbs up; that his recovery is on schedule for the 2016 season. He is hungry, excited and motivated to compete for his job.
Hill said he is “constantly working” on drills to improve his footwork, but that is more to increase his ability to be a quarterback rather than protect his injured foot.
“I have custom-made shoe inserts since surgery and I’ll wear those in the offseason, also Nike is building a shoe that gives me more support through the arch and I’ll include my orthotics as an insole on top of that.
“The ones I have already now have been molding to my foot specifically. Nike is building an additional support in my arch as well. I’m part of Nike’s research and development and I’m sort of the guinea pig to be a part of it. We are literally exhausting every avenue to recover and to stay healthy and make sure my foot doesn’t make limitations.”
We’ll have to come up with a name for the Taysom Hill shoe.
Down Hill Racer.
There are some critics who say some of the lightweight football shoes favored by major manufacturers may contribute to Lisfranc injuries because of the lack of rigid support through the bottom of the foot.
Hill enters this summer and fall practice the only way he can — with unbridled optimism. He can’t be a prisoner to fear, even with the injuries he’s suffered so far in his career at BYU.
That’s the only attitude he should have, one he can live with.
“I don’t worry about those things. I understand football is a freaky sport and injuries happen. There aren’t many opportunities you get to play at this level, and I want to be able to do that as long as I can. I’m young and 25 and I want to have the opportunity to it.”
So, for Hill, shoes, insoles, Nike R&D aside, he’s a man taking his role serious, but one part at a time.
“I’m going to go out and give it all I can and it isn’t going to be on my mind that I might get hurt. If it happens, it happens and I’ll be OK with whatever does happen.
“I just want to play. I really don’t have any expectation. I went through rehabbing for four months, got injured, had another eight months and then played one quarter with a healthy foot and I just want to play. I just want to be in the stadium, be with my teammates. You cannot replicate that environment.”
Some at Media Day wondered if Hill would have other roles in the offense — receiver, running back, flanker or whatever.
That’s like asking a sculptor if he’d like to roller skate. Hill is a quarterback. He’s been a quarterback. That is what he wants to improve the most in his own talent.
“There’s been no discussion at all having any other role in the offense,” Hill said, and his QB coach and offensive coordinator concurred, not a word of any other role has been talked about.
Like Hill, Detmer’s mindset is pure quarterback. You don’t cross-wire finesse passing quarterbacks, and that is what Hill wants to develop himself into. His running talent is an accessory and weapon. His job is to call plays, take hikes, pass and run if needed, but sparingly. Quarterbacks are quarterbacks.
“I doubt it,” said Detmer of a running back or wide receiver role for Hill.
“To me Taysom is a quarterback. For guys to switch positions, it is really hard because it is a different mindset. A quarterback, you are used to playing in space. If you are a running back, you are used to playing in a hole that is this big (he holds his hands out about two feet wide). You are putting your head down and it’s a mindset you grow up with. A transition isn’t easy to go to other positions.
“At this point, we haven’t had any of those conversations.”
Some folks do want Hill to take on even more roles, especially if Tanner Mangum ends up being the starter.
The guy’s got enough on his plate trying to be a healthy quarterback.