I know we’re rival schools, but I don’t wish that upon (anybody), not even my worst enemies. —Utah linebacker Gionni Paul
SALT LAKE CITY — BYU quarterback Taysom Hill’s injury hit close to home for Utah linebacker Gionni Paul.
Hill left BYU’s win over Nebraska with a Lisfranc sprain, which may require surgery and will sideline the quarterback the rest of this season. Hill now has suffered three season-ending injuries in his career at BYU.
The same injury hampered Paul last season.
Paul fractured his Lisfranc joint during Utah’s 2014 spring practices, which cost him an entire summer and a pair of games before making his Utes debut against Michigan last September. Even then, he still had challenges.
“I wish a Lisfranc fracture on nobody,” Paul said, following Utah's practice on Tuesday. “That injury can be very tricky. It’s very different for each athlete. So when I saw Taysom Hill go down with that injury, that just touched my heart because ... from experiencing it, how I went through it, and the toll it took on my family, the toll it took on my life... Just to see the young man go down with that, and his (previous) knee injury and stuff like that — I know we’re rival schools, but I don’t wish that upon (anybody), not even my worst enemies.”
Paul added that it was one of the most difficult injuries he had to recover from, describing it as like stepping with a “tennis ball rolled under your foot.”
“Your foot just gives out, you can’t do anything,” Paul said, reflecting on his old injury. “I don’t know when he sustained the injury in the game, but if he did it before (he left the game), all hats to him once you do it, your foot swells up. You can’t run, you can’t plant. Then you’ve got to go through surgery, being in a boot and in a wheelchair for like four months. Then you have to go through (having) crutches for another few months.”
That’s why he made it a point to tweet his best wishes toward Hill in his recovery and would like the chance to talk with the BYU quarterback about the recovery process in any spare time he may have between classes and gearing up for Utah’s game against Utah State on Friday.
“I would be interested in talking to him and telling him what it’ll be like,” Paul said. “If he reaches out to me, I’d tell him, 'It can be very tricky, man, you really got to take your time with it, you really got to get your cut and explosiveness back.’”
Paul wasn’t the only Utes player sending his best wishes to Hill on Twitter after learning of his injury. Wide receiver Kenneth Scott did the same.
Scott has suffered through injuries since joining the Utes that led to his receiving a medical extension to continue playing up to this season. For Scott, those injuries changed his perception of the game.
“It’s probably the most depressing time when you go through the injuries,” he said. “I feel for Taysom Hill. I understand what it feels like having the same type of injury over and over. It’s hard during those times, but as long as he keeps positive and everything like that, he should be fine.”
Both said they felt humbled by the mostly positive response received on social media, regardless of the rivalry.
Though they embrace the rivalry in many regards, they understand there are times to put it aside.
“It’s bigger than the rivalry — anything like that,” Scott said. “It’s pretty cool, a connection to other people from other teams, just to show everybody it’s bigger than football because we’re out here every day, numerous hours a week, just for one play to take that stuff away. It definitely has your head turning a lot of times.”