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Back for an encore: Taysom Hill working to be more of a 'complete quarterback' for BYU

Published: Monday, July 28 2014 2:55 p.m. MDT

Updated: Wednesday, July 30 2014 10:18 p.m. MDT

BYU quarterback Taysom Hill fights off Georgia Tech linebacker Jabari Hunt-Days during a game at LaVell Edwards Stadium in 2013.

Matt Gade, Deseret News

PROVO — It goes without saying that BYU quarterback Taysom Hill has established what he can do when it comes to running the football.

Hill rushed for 1,344 yards — and threw for nearly 3,000 more — a year ago. And his teammates say they expect to see even better performances from him this fall. During the offseason, Hill has worked hard to improve his passing ability.

“Now he can be a complete quarterback and show everybody what he can do,” said running back Jamaal Williams.

The Cougars open fall camp Friday.

Twelve months ago, coming off a season-ending knee injury and trying to learn a new offensive system, Hill experienced some growing pains and struggled with his accuracy early on.

But entering the 2014 campaign, Hill, a junior, has a lot of snaps in offensive coordinator Robert Anae’s up-tempo offense, and should benefit from an influx of talented wide receivers at his disposal.

The Cougars have added transfers Nick Kurtz, Jordan Leslie, Devon Blackmon, and Keanu Nelson. They join returning players like Mitch Mathews, Ross Apo, Michael Davis, Kurt Henderson and Colby Pearson.

At media day in June, Anae talked about his desire for the offense to "go hard, go fast and go far" — meaning he wants Hill to throw deeper this season.

“It’s great to have a quarterback that’s this versatile, especially when we have new weapons that he can throw to,” Williams said. “I expect him to go ahead and throw those deep balls now. He’s got a lot of speedsters on the outside that can help him out. He can show what his arm can do this year and show the precision and accuracy and how far he can throw it. I can’t wait to watch him show what he can do.”

Hill completed 236 of 438 passes for 54 percent in 2013. BYU’s defensive players have noticed Hill’s marked improvement in that area during the spring and summer.

“All the (defensive backs) are talking about is how Taysom has gotten better and is more accurate,” said linebacker Manoa Pikula. “During spring ball, he didn’t scramble as much. He’s been working on his arm and you can tell during seven-on-sevens that he’s placing the ball where it needs to be. He’s being more accurate. People are going to see more of his passing game this year.”

Mathews said one of Hill’s strengths is learning from mistakes and honing his skills.

“He’s a phenomenal athlete. You see him on the football field and you know he’s a great athlete,” he said. “Being one of his good buddies, we golf and play basketball together. You tell him to work on his golf game and he’ll be the best he can at it. You tell him to work on his forehand in tennis, and he’ll be the best on the team at it. You tell him to throw these routes, and he’ll do it. Nobody’s ever worried about him. When you tell him to work on something, miraculously, the next day, he’s the best at it. He’s good at being the best at everything he does. He can fix things the next day. His improvement comes so quick.”

“That kid is already a genetic freak. He’s taking a lot of time to improve his game, and it’s shown. I’m excited for it,” tight end Devin Mahina said of Hill. “He’s a great leader. He’s vocal and he expects guys to be at their best, to make sure they’re doing everything they can so we can win. That’s a leader.”

Hill said that he feels more comfortable in Anae’s up-tempo attack.

“It makes a big difference for us as an offense and for me personally," he said. "Going into my sophomore year I was rehabbing a knee injury, we were learning a new offense, and learning a new scheme. Everything was so new. This last year, we had our base.

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