Ken Driggs: Taysom Hill is on track for rare BYU sophomore QB breakout year
The parade of QBs began again in 2002, with Engemann, Matt Berry, Lance Pendelton and Todd Mortensen all seeing action, and in 2003 promising returned missionary John Beck was added to the mix. Beck eventually took over the starting duties in 2004 during his sophomore year and had some outstanding performances. But the team stuggled to a 5-6 record and coach Gary Crowton was replaced by Bronco Mendenhall after the season.
The 2005 season was a promising one, with continuity at the QB position and newfound enthusiasm with the advent of the Mendenhall era. In 2006 the team and Beck really blossomed, and the first of two 11-2 seasons took place, punctuated by a dramatic pass from Beck to Jonny Harline to defeat Utah and then a trouncing of now nearly invincible Oregon in the Las Vegas Bowl.
The next great QB hope was waiting in the wings, and Max Hall fulfilled the ardent Cougar fans' dreams with a breakout sophomore season in 2007. He finished his career in 2009 with the most wins ever by a BYU quarterback, and capped it with a trouncing of Oregon St. in a windy Las Vegas Bowl.
Just as the hopes for a great career performance from a No. 1 rated high school QB were dashed in the early 2000s by the transfer and demise of Ben Olson, 2010 brought what BYU fans thought would be a superstar performeance by Jake Heaps. His promising freshman season was followed by a disappointing sophomore season and a transfer to Kansas. Riley Nelson didn't start until he was a junior at BYU and had some spectacular moments, but an injury in his senior season allowed the Cougar fans a taste of what they might have in the future, a breakout quarterback season and career, from athletic freshman Hill.
Hill went down with a season-ending injury against Utah State, but the appetite was whetted for Cougar fans. Hill's performance against Texas on a national stage catapulted him into that rare atmosphere, a potential breakout sophomore season for a BYU QB.
Is this the year and the QB performance that we have been yearning for? I, for one, believe that it is and can't wait to see the season and Hill's career play out.
Ken Driggs of Mesa, Ariz., is a BYU graduate and served as Cosmo in the '60s. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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