I'm playing as much as I can right now because I've got workouts in the morning and when I have time to myself, I like to play. Come Aug. 2, it will all end. I use it for my away time. —Taysom Hill, on playing golf
PROVO — Taysom Hill’s summer is winding down.
Amid summer workouts as BYU’s starting quarterback, Hill has been called on to play golf in charity events — just like all high-profile Cougars before him. On Saturday, Hill joined teammate JD Falslev at East Bay Golf Course for the Aloha Classic, a charity event to fight cancer. His group shot a 15-under-par 57.
Not too shabby, really.
“I’ve tried to play three or four rounds a week, if I can,” said Hill. “I’m playing as much as I can right now because I’ve got workouts in the morning and when I have time to myself, I like to play. Come Aug. 2, it will all end. I use it for my away time.”
Hill is a single-digit handicap player. His strength is his iron play. He claims Faslev is the best golfer on BYU’s football team. “He’s better than me most of the time because he’s more consistent.”
Hip deep in workouts, golf and rumors about the health of his knee, this is a typical summer for a Cougar quarterback. Those who are good at golf (Gifford Nielsen, Jim McMahon, Robbie Bosco, Ty Detmer and Max Hall) usually end up as pretty decent college quarterbacks in Provo.
That Hill is shooting 78 to 81 for a round of 18 might be a good omen.
Post golf, Hill has a big challenge of being the point man for a rebuilt, high-tempo offense installed by offensive coordinator Robert Anae, who returned to BYU from Arizona.
Before teeing off, Hill took a few minutes to cover the football bases.
His knee? It’s fine. What about an Internet rumor announcing he hurt his knee playing softball? Absolutely not true, he says. “I did dive hard for a ball and slid, but I didn’t get hurt at all.”
Hill suffered a hyperextended knee in the final seconds of a win over Utah State last October, an injury that required surgery and ended his freshman season. He has since declared himself fully recovered.
“The other day we were doing a bunch of sprints and trying to simulate a 10-play drive, sprinting there and back over and over again and I felt really good, as good as I’ve felt in a long time.”
Hill said he and his teammates have been undergoing organized workouts supervised by strength and conditioning coach Jay Omer and his assistant, Justin McClure. In addition, through a players leadership council, guys have met on their own twice a week to go over scripts and plays. “It’s especially been helpful for new players. We meet for 30 minutes, then go out on the field for about an hour.”
Hill said almost all of BYU’s 2013 recruits who will be part of this year's squad are in town working out. That group includes eight offensive linemen from the JC and high school ranks. “From what I’ve seen, there are some players that are going to help us. I’m excited and encouraged in what I’ve seen. I’ve talked to our conditioning coaches who have been monitoring them to see that they catch on to what we’re doing. They are weight room guys and they are working hard. There are some where the learning curve will be a little more steep than others, but some of the JC guys, who are physically more mature, might catch on quicker. In two weeks, I’ve seen them go hard.”
Development of the O-line is paramount to BYU's offensive hopes. Hill knows that.
“People have to remember we’ve only had 15 practices with this new offense under Robert Anae. Other than that, what we’ve done is on our own, so people coming in are being mentored pretty good by those who have been here and they are only 15 practices behind us.”
Take the 15 spring practices and the volunteer workouts since, and Hill says he has noticed an increase in his skill and comfort in running the offense. “It’s also given us the opportunity to call our own plays, so we have to be really familiar with the things we’re doing and we are pushing the tempo. It’s been really good.”
Another thing is the return of key injured players, like tackle Ryker Mathews and receiver Cody Hoffman. “They weren’t there in spring, neither was JD. This time has been huge for them so come Aug. 2 it isn’t a wake-up call."
Hill praised receiver Mitch Mathews, a 6-6 playmaker, but he voluntarily singled out receiver Ross Apo, who was hampered by injury last spring and summer.
“This is the hardest I’ve ever seen Ross work as well. Granted, he had a shoulder injury last offseason and was hampered, but he’s looking good, as is Hoffman. I’ve got a bevy of great guys to throw to and I’m looking forward to it.”
And he’ll get to it soon enough. For now, its time to swing that Ping G-20 driver and Eye-10 irons.
That’s what good quarterbacks do.
Dick Harmon, Deseret News sports columnist, can be found on Twitter as Harmonwrites and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.