Should Taysom Hill return to BYU for sixth year?

BYU should look to Utah State for how to handle the possibility of Taysom Hill coming back for a sixth-year of eligibility.

There is a lot of debate about the future of BYU quarterback Taysom Hill. Everyone is aware of the three season-ending injuries for Hill, and all three were different with a lisfranc this year, broken leg in 2014 and a torn knee in 2012. Hill can get a sixth-year, if he wants, since the injury came in the first game of the Nebraska football. Lisfranc injuries take a long time to heal and at this moment no one knows how this foot injury will heal well enough to be the same player.

Hill told Jason F. Wright in the Deseret News that he still needs to wait and see once he his healed to decide on his future.

“I’m in no rush to decide,” Hill said. “These are three separate injuries with no correlation. These are freak things. Do they end my career? Not necessarily. I have the option of a medical redshirt and one more year after I graduate this December. Then maybe I pursue the NFL. Who knows.”

Hill does have a finance degree and had a high quality internship as he prepared himself this summer for life after football, and it could be coming sooner than later.

For arguments sake, lets say that Hill will recover to the extent where he can play football, and at a high level. The question was brought up on Cougar Sports and the reaction to this question.

There was also the conversation about maybe Hill could transfer for one more year of college football. He has his degree and there are coaches out there who would want a quarterback of his caliber. Extremely early speculation could see Hill going to Michigan to follow Jim Harbaugh who was recruiting him while at Stanford, and a few other schools that Hill could go to are back to Stanford and maybe even Oregon, again early speculation.

Possibly getting Hill back is very appealing for BYU since he has not had a full healthy year of playing football since the 2013 season. That can be enticing and make fans, coaches and everyone rooting for Hill to comeback to have that one year to show off his game one last time and lead the Cougars to glory.

However, a cautionary tale of this exact same situation can be seen by just driving North along I-15 to Logan, Utah, where their star quarterback Chuckie Keeton had an injury-plagued career and in 2015 came back with the use of a medical redshirt. The Aggie fan base was very excited, as was most of college football, to get one of the nation’s most exciting players back on the field.

Keeton was handed the starting job once healthy and the first domino to fall was having Darrell Garretson transfer to Oregon State. Now, I am not saying Tanner Mangum will transfer if Hill comes back and starts, but the quarterback situation at Utah State took a downgrade.

Keeton and the Utah State offense looked terrible against Southern Utah where there were no offensive touchdowns and Keeton completed just 16 of 33 passes for 151 yards and an interception, but against Utah he looked much better but he took a big hit and was limping most of the game. Then against Washington, Keeton was just OK but still was being bothered by a knee injury, and one that is currently sidelining him for up to six weeks.

Back to Hill, he looked good in what we saw against Nebraska and Keeton did not look like his old self, and part of that is because Keeton suffered a similar knee injury each time while Hill’s injuries were all different so there is reason to be more optimistic for BYU compared to what Utah State was hoping to get out of Keeton in one last hurrah.

There are a few outcomes for BYU if Hill comes back. Odds are he will be implanted as the starter once he is proven to be healthy due to his track record and that he was the starter over Mangum coming into the 2014 season. Even if Hill comes back healthy and manages to stay that way for the entire year it sets back Mangum’s development.

Then take a look at next year’s schedule which is loaded and possibly the toughest slate of games in school history, so having an exceptional  year would be hard to come by. There is always the risk of Hill getting hurt early and his career being over, and that could be a likely outcome given his injury history — again, all three were different — and staying healthy from just bumps and bruises against the schedule would be a task for most quarterbacks.

BYU should look at Utah State for what not to do in a situation like this. If Hill comes back, make him earn the starting job and do not just hand it to him, but the best option would be for the coaches to say thanks for the team to just move on and if Hill really wants that last year of college football. This is his only chance at college football and he is lucky enough to get this chance as many do not, so let him transfer to any school and wish him good luck.


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