Taysom Hill: The future at QB for Virginia football?

taysom hillThe question hanging over Virginia football right now is: Taysom Hill?

New UVA coach Bronco Mendenhall inherits a veteran quarterback, Matt Johns, who threw for 2,810 yards and 20 touchdowns in 12 starts in 2015.

But Johns also threw for an FBS-worst 17 interceptions, and mobility isn’t among his strong suits, which could make him a square peg in the round hole of Mendenhall’s preferred read-option offensive attack.

Mobility is the strength of Hill, 26, who has missed most of the past two seasons with injuries, has a year of eligibility remaining, and as a graduate of BYU can transfer to another school without having to sit out a year, as former Virginia starting QB Greyson Lambert did in 2015 before landing at Georgia.

Hill only played one full season at BYU under Mendenhall, in 2013, throwing for 2,938 yards, 19 touchdowns and 14 interceptions, with an additional 1,344 yards and 10 TDs on the ground.

He went down in the first half of the Cougars’ season opener in 2015, opening the door for Taylor Mangum, who put up solid numbers (3,377 yards, 23 TDs, 10 INTs) in leading Brigham Young to a nine-win season.

A rising sophomore, one would expect that Mangum is the quarterback of the future for new coach Kalani Sitake, forcing a decision for Hill.

The bulk of the coaching staff is now putting up stakes in Virginia, including offensive coordinator Robert Anae and quarterbacks coach Jason Beck.

A move east for his final year of eligibility would reunite Hill with Anae, Beck and Mendenhall, and by default he would enter as the QB with the most experience in the system that Virginia will employ in 2016.

The only advantage that Johns would have would be his familiarity with the personnel, but he’d have a learning curve with the playbook that Hill has a four-year advantage having mastered.

The huge caveat here: Hill has not publicly expressed interest even in playing football next year, much less leaving BYU.

There is, no doubt, rampant speculation about his plans, most of it out Utah way focused on the expectation that Hill does want to play, and is looking at transfer options.

Those transfer options, it seems, could include Virginia, which is seen as a frontrunner, plus Stanford, his original choice coming out of high school, before reversing course and landing at BYU, and Michigan, whose coach, Jim Harbaugh, had recruited him when he was at Stanford.

Virginia would seem a best bet mainly because Hill has one year of eligibility left, and his learning curve would be flattest among the three options with his familiarity with the staff.

If he were to decide to transfer to Virginia, it would seem a given that he would enter the fall as the starter, assuming he is healthy, and can stay that way.

That’s the other caveat with Taysom Hill, a Heisman Trophy-level talent whose style puts him in harm’s way.

One would assume that we’d hear whatever we’re going to hear from Hill soon, as in before national signing day on Feb. 3, if only because the UVA staff will need to know what to do with its open scholarships heading into the spring.

If I had to bet: I’d bet on him not coming. Just a hunch, but I’m not sure Hill even plays football in 2016, given his health, his age and the fact that he’s married and at some point soon needs to get on with the rest of his life, which for all of the factors above will not include a career in the NFL.

Not that Taysom Hill wearing the orange and blue wouldn’t be intriguing as all get out.

– Column by Chris Graham


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