PLEASANT GROVE — Beast mode.
Go ahead, try to find a replica.
Can’t do it.
Search NFL Films’ archives as long as you want. Delve into every game of anyone’s career and you will not construct a highlight film anything like Taysom Hill had for the New Orleans Saints in 2019. It features Hill throwing long and short passes, catching touchdown passes, runs for touchdowns, dashes on option plays as a running back and tight end, blocking a punt and making tackles as a special teams player.
Hill is among the fastest and strongest players in the NFL. He can take on linemen, linebackers and safeties and pass with elite velocity. He shreds tacklers and barrels over defenders. He’s played every offensive position but lineman.
Hill had seven touchdown catches in 2019. That is more than five of the league’s top receivers, including Julio Jones, Keenan Allen, D.J. Moore and Jarvis Landry.
To the New Orleans Saints, he’s their Swiss Army knife. To others, he’s kind of like Marvel Comics character Thor, without a hammer.
To private trainer David Stroshine, owner of Stroformance in Pleasant Grove, Utah, Hill is the epitome of what an athlete should be, the kind of man he wants his son to emulate and see as an example and hero.
Stroshine first met Hill in January 2017, after Hill finished his senior year of eligibility in 2016 at BYU. His arm was in a post-surgery sling and he asked Stroshine to help him prepare for BYU’s pro day in March.
Today, Hill, 29, is being mentioned as the heir apparent to Drew Brees, who turned 41 on Wednesday and may or may not retire after establishing the NFL’s mark for career TD passes this past season. Right now, the Saints do not have a quarterback under contract.
As a restricted free agent, New Orleans will have to pay around $3 million to keep Hill as a second-level consideration and go as high as $4.5 million if they tag him a priority top-level guy. The Saints could also resign Teddy Bridgewater, who went 5-0 as a starter last season.
“The day Taysom came to me, he wasn’t looking to throw at his pro day, he just wanted to prepare to run the 40 and take part as best he could. We weren’t sure if he could even perform for BYU’s pro day with his teammates,” said Stroshine.
“Then he shows up for the school’s pro day and blows everyone away. He ran a 4.47 and 4.41 and erased any questions about any injuries. He threw the ball great. He looked great and he had a vertical of over 38 inches.”
Hill had asked Stroshine to be his QB guy at the event that day and kind of watch out for him. If some scouts wanted to overdo his throwing reps with short intervals, he didn’t want things to get carried away with tempo. Stroshine could step in and say that was good. “I told him I wasn’t a quarterback guy, but I’d watch out for him and step in if there was too much asked too quick, to be a buffer.”
Two things stood out to Stroshine that day.
“I’m standing there and I could feel his command and presence with his teammates. It was tangible and really stood out. I said to myself, ‘This guy is special. This guy’s a leader.’
“It was awesome to be right in the thick of things and see how his receivers and backs responded to him. You could just feel the respect and their willingness to perform. Just boom, react and go and come back eager to do what he asked. I’m like, this guy is just a special human being with a great reputation as a person. You saw the chemistry, you saw the love he gets, and he was so crisp with his throws.
“That was the first time I’d been around him in that kind of setting, seeing his leadership and skill. It’s always stuck with me.”
The second thing that stood out to Stroshine that day happened at the end of throwing. “A scout came up, I think he was with the Patriots, and asked Hill if he would run a few pass routes as a receiver and do some running back stuff.
“Without hesitation, he said, ‘Yeah, I’d love to.’ He is a football player. He just loves the game. It was simple. He was playing football and it was like, of course, he would do anything to play. In this industry a lot of quarterbacks would get their noses bent out of shape or be insulted if asked to run routes or do running back drills, but he wasn’t that way at all.
“He was enthusiastic and even motivated to show what he could do. This is what makes Taysom special and now he’s in his third season and everyone has witnessed what he can do. It is on full display, this attitude, his love to play and do anything he is asked without hesitation. It’s football, isn’t it?”
Adversity is fuel
Opportunities present themselves and you have to make the most of them, said Stroshine. “That was a perfect example of it.”
Hill had four season-ending injuries during his career at BYU. “Adversity is fuel,” said Stroshine. “Hill used all his setbacks as motivation to get better and return to compete at a high level. That is rare.”
One workout session, Hill asked if he could put 625 pounds on the barbell and back squat lift. Stroshine cautiously discussed it and said he could try it just once. This is something a quarterback just does not do — why would he? A video of the lift went viral, viewed more than 44,000 times on Twitter. Some commented that it was dangerous or not needed.
“He made the lift, a remarkable feat. He wanted to do it again, but I told him he was done,” said Stroshine.
“Why did he do it? He did it to break his big brother’s personal record by five pounds. That is how competitive he is. It was a personal thing nobody knew in the public. But he knew and he wanted to beat it.”
Stroshine said squatting 400 or 500 pounds is just a warmup for Hill. “He just gets started at 400 pounds. He is a very strong man and has worked hard on his core, flexibility, strength and agility. That, and his natural talent, makes him a special athlete and remarkable football player on the field.”
Hill’s special energy and talent was realized by the Saints. It quickly spread among Sean Payton’s coaching staff, teammates and fans.
Hill’s hip mobility and leg strength is why he’s so fast, explains Stroshine.
“When we worked out, we wanted to take advantage of that force he was producing. He was about 235 but wanted to get faster. I asked him what weight he felt most comfortable at and he said 220, so we got him there. He was rarely healthy in college due to injuries, but in that Texas game, when he ran over the Longhorn defense, you got a glimpse of a healthy Taysom. The Saints have had a healthy Taysom.”
Stroshine said Hill handles himself the right way. He is humble, grateful, honest and real. He doesn’t seek the limelight but lets his actions speak for themselves. “He is a great example and he’s persevering. You have to applaud a guy who does it the right way and keeps coming back with his mouth shut.
“Taysom just wants to compete. He’ll do anything he’s asked to do to get on the field. It’s genuine, he is genuine.”
Stroshine tells his son he could hang up posters of a lot of athletes out there and strive to be like them, but as a dad, he only wants examples like J.J. Watt, Saquon Barkley, Mike Trout and Taysom Hill.
In Hill, Stroshine sees a kind of lovable Hulk, a modern Hercules, a phenomenal athlete who is a better human being doing nonhuman things.
“If I could have my son turn out like anybody, I’d want him to be like Taysom Hill,” said the trainer.