Ty Detmer, Jim McMahon, John Beck, Max Hall, and Steve Sarkisian. The quarterback tradition at Brigham Young University is especially rich.
As Green Bay Packers rookie quarterback Taysom Hill, a historical Cougars stalwart in his own right, continues to dazzle and fight for a spot on the team, the name of perhaps the greatest quarterback to come out of BYU keeps popping up.
Coached by the former Packer Detmer, who is now BYU’s offensive coordinator, Hill became one of the most memorable offensive players in school history. He eclipsed Young in both total offense and total touchdowns responsible for as a senior, becoming a top five player at BYU in both categories. He also finished more than 1,700 rushing yards ahead of Young as the Cougars’ all-time leading rusher from the quarterback position. Although Young bested Hill as a passer numerically, he started almost three full seasons to Hill’s two.
With a tenacious 23-yard touchdown run and fist pumping first down scamper on the same fourth quarter drive against Washington, Hill brought comparisons not just to his college days of running all over the Texas Longhorns, but Young’s illustrious career.
If you want to talk differences, the biggest difference between Steve Young and taysom Hill is taysom is by far more gifted! https://t.co/AFwPOW26n0— Brady poppinga (@BradyPoppinga) August 23, 2017
A BYU quarterback wearing No. 8 just stiff-armed his way into the end zone for a 23-yard TD run. Taysom Hill, that is. Not Steve Young.— Ryan Wood (@ByRyanWood) August 20, 2017
There are some comparisons that catch one’s eye. Of course, there is the number eight jersey. There are the physical comparisons with both quarterbacks standing 6’2” and within five pounds of each other in their prime. There is a fierce gamer mentality, combining an innate scrambling ability with the ability to spin the ball as evidenced by Hill’s missiles to DeAngelo Yancey and Max McCaffrey against the Philadelphia Eagles. And although it’s admittedly only Hill’s rookie preseason, both quarterbacks now have a history of backing up NFL legends in Aaron Rodgers and Joe Montana.
Maybe the real comparisons come from Young himself, who praised Hill’s skills on several occasions. Quoted in an article with Fox Sports two years ago, Young believed Hill’s game could not only be special at the college level, but translate to the NFL.
I turned to whoever I was watching the game with and said, ‘This kid could win a Heisman. He’s gotten so much better and improved his game so much. I think he’s too dynamic not to try [to enter the NFL Draft]. I think he’d always wonder about being hurt. And [the injury] won’t keep him from having an opportunity. He was too dynamic for someone not to give him a shot.’
At one point in Hill’s career, Young described the younger quarterback as a better version himself, in addition to labeling him as “stronger” and “faster” in the video below.
Of course, there are notable differences in the two Provo icons. On a superficial level, Hill is a right-handed thrower, while Young was a lefty. From an age perspective, Hill recently turned 27, fulfilling a religious mission and medically redshirting in college. Hill may not necessarily have the grooming time and long-term potential Young had early on in his USFL and NFL tenure after spending just four years at BYU. Hill’s medical redshirt, along with a staggering four season-ending injuries in college, provides another distinct difference from Young, who battled a few injuries as a pro but never even remotely carried the same collegiate medical baggage.
As training camp winds down and the heat turns up for a developmental spot on the roster or practice squad in Green Bay, Hill’s age may not matter in a battle with the younger Joe Callahan. As impressive as his NFL career has begun, it would be a mild surprise if Hill is not a member of the Packers in some form this upcoming season.
With Rodgers entrenched as the franchise quarterback, Brett Hundley is destined to fight for a starting role outside of Green Bay. That opens an opportunity for the Packers to seek and develop a talented signal caller to be an heir apparent.
If Hill becomes that guy for the Packers in the long term, he will share yet another similarity to Young in backing up a legend.