AP
New Orleans Saints quarterback Taysom Hill (7) carries for a touchdown in front of Carolina Panthers cornerback Corn Elder (35) in the second half of an NFL football game in New Orleans, Sunday, Dec. 30, 2018. (AP Photo/Bill Feig)

Quarterback Taysom Hill has turned into a valuable multi-purpose player for the New Orleans Saints.

Because of the athlete’s versatility in being able to pass, run, block, tackle, block punts, assist quarterback Drew Brees and help the playoff-bound team win in a variety of ways, the former BYU star has become a popular player in New Orleans.

The Saints and their fans like him so much that the organization sent a crew to his hometown of Pocatello, Idaho, to do a feature on Hill’s family and childhood stomping grounds. The team website currently features a photo essay about Hill with 31 photos and descriptions about where Hill grew up.

“In the southeastern part of Idaho, the city of Pocatello is home to New Orleans Saints player Taysom Hill,” the essay reads. “The small-town feel, beautiful landscape, and his family’s closeness all served to raise him as the man we see today.”

Hill tweeted out a link to the feature from the Saints’ Twitter account, writing, “Love my hometown and family, and grateful to now be in New Orleans living out a childhood dream.”

HAPPY BIRTHDAY?

Rudy Gobert got an early birthday gift — or maybe it was a late one. Either way, some Utah Jazz teammates recently helped The Stifle Tower celebrate his big day — or, more like, they pulled a fast one on the restaurant and on Gobert.

Gobert and Donovan Mitchell put the prank on social media, as chronicled by Deseret News sports writer Ryan McDonald, who noted that the French center's 27th birthday is still almost six months away.

PADGETT VS. REFEREE

Former Jazz forward Scott Padgett, now head coach of Samford, had an interesting moment with an official on Thursday night. At one point in the heated exchange, the referee came toward Padgett — a move that the coach didn’t appreciate.

“I literally said, ‘Are you stepping to me right now?’ That’s what I said,” Padgett said. “That’s what I think is hilarious. It’s not a real world out there because a guy like that stepping at me is not realistic. I mean, if we’re out on the street, he’s running the other way just if he sees me walking by. This ain’t a threat. I’m 6-foot-9, probably 280 right now. Not a lot of people step to me. I think it was kind of an unprofessional move.”

Padgett was a late-round first-round pick out of Kentucky who played for the Jazz from 1999-2003. He played professionally in the NBA and for CB Granada until 2007 and later began his coaching career at Kentucky, his alma mater, in 2009, before moving on to Samford in 2012.

KEY PIECE

Former University of Utah star Eric Weddle has carved out quite the NFL career. Sports Illustrated took a look at how important the Pro Bowler is to the Baltimore Ravens’ stingy defense.

WEEKEND PLANNER

Friday, Jan. 4

NBA: Jazz at Cavaliers, 5:30 p.m.

G League: Stars vs. Sioux Falls, 7 p.m.

ECHL: Grizzlies vs. Wichita, 7 p.m.

Women’s basketball: Dixie State at UC Colorado Springs, 5:30 p.m.

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Saturday, Jan. 5

NBA: Jazz at Pistons, 5 p.m.

ECHL: Grizzlies vs. Wichita, 7 p.m.

Men’s basketball: Utah at Arizona, noon

Men’s basketball: SUU at Weber State, 7 p.m.

Men’s basketball: BYU at Saint Mary’s, 9 p.m.

Women’s basketball: BYU vs. LMU, 2 p.m.

Women’s basketball: Utah State at Air Force, 2 p.m.

Women’s basketball: Weber State at SUU, 2 p.m.

Women’s basketball: Dixie State at Colorado School of Mines

High school football: U.S. Army All-American Bowl, 11 a.m.

Gymnastics: Penn State at Utah, 4 p.m.