Taysom Hill is fighting to prove himself once more.

Even after signing a nice bulky contract with the New Orleans Saints and starting four games last season when Drew Brees got injured, the former BYU quarterback feels that old familiar drip on his soul: What have you done lately?

Hill is in a battle with Jameis Winston heading into training camp. It’s a cutthroat race for emergence. Many in New Orleans give the more experienced Winston a light edge. But Hill’s work ethic, his consummate drive, his willingness to do anything possible to get on the field, is a force that Saints players respect.

If there is one trait Hill has shown during the course of his athletic life, it is his desire to succeed. He cares. He hates failure. And he truly believes he can achieve his goals. 

That’s what makes him so valuable.

He refuses to be defined by others.

He leaves that job for himself.

In a YouTube video, “The Taysom Hill Story,” which has had 741,087 views since April 2018, Hill explains, “We can’t control what life brings, we can only control how we respond to it.  My journey to the NFL has had the highs, the lows, and everything in between — and I’m grateful for all of it.”

John Hendrix, writing for Saints FanNation.com, wonders if folks are selling Hill short in this QB derby. This, even though Hendrix is on record saying Winston has the edge to start.

Hill apparently impressed reporters in early June when he frankly and honestly outlined some of his goals to get better. He is working on his throwing mechanics. He wants to get rid of the ball faster — something he struggled to do in his starts this past season. He is fully aware that to win the job, he needs to put some distance between himself and Winston and prove it on the field.

“I think every quarterback would tell you that your feet should take you where the ball goes,” Hill said during a minicamp session.

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“I think as you throw routes on air, you’re just trying to get work in, but then you get into a game and you’re trying to replicate a rush and everything else. Those are the things that I’m employing. I think that I could have sped some things up, based on some offensive concepts, where I was maybe a little bit late on a throw, but I felt like we weren’t ready to deliver the ball.”

Both Hill and Winston reportedly have approached this challenge with class and professionalism. They’ve been supportive of one another and have not tried to — at least outwardly — politick themselves into the role by splitting the team or running personal campaigns that could be disruptive.

Winston did fly out several Saints receivers to a throwing session with him in Miami this summer, trying to build some timing and chemistry.

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Winston’s big challenge is interceptions. He can turn it over in bunches. But he has a very strong arm and intends to use it in an offense that didn’t require Brees to stretch the field much in his later years.

On the other hand, Hill had some great moments as a starter. And he had some ugly plays that went sideways, including five fumbles, three of which were lost to the other guys.

In what amounted to three “legitimate” starts for New Orleans last year, Hill completed a respectable 73 of 98 passes (74.4%) for 756 yards, an average of 7.7 yards per attempt. He tossed four touchdown passes and one interception. He also rushed for 165 yards on 39 carries, a whopping 5.7 yards per tote.

NBC sportscaster Chris Simms has Hill beating out Winston. The debate is alive and well fed in NFL circles.

Hill’s critics didn’t like the fumbles. And they wish he’d tried to not do so much, place so much on himself, perhaps targeting Alvin Kamara more than just three times for seven yards in that stretch of games.

Hill is no dummy. He knows all this.

But his athletic life has been reliant on his strength and speed. He has elite speed on a football field and it’s been his golden parachute his whole life.

It would be hard to take that away from his mindset — that he can fix plays, extend plays, make something happen with a short burst against a linebacker.

But it’s clear, and it’s always been clear, that to succeed at that level, he will need to become a playmaking passer that can extend drives, move the chains and produce touchdown passes. Then, his escape talent can accentuate it.

Can Hill do it?

Well, he’s getting paid the money to make it worth his while.

Both he and Winston are working to get another contract — much bigger money.  And the satisfaction of leading the Saints’ offense as QB1.

But for Hill, it’s a familiar refrain: He has to prove himself.

Again.