Taysom Hill: Mormon Athlete

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Taysom Hill Mormon Athlete
Courtesy nfl.com

Taysom Hill is a professional quarterback with the National Football League. During the 2022 training camp, he "found himself focusing more on playing tight end while also reprising his role as a utility player with the New Orleans Saints under first-year head coach Dennis Allen, and he’s embracing the challenge despite moving away from more quarterback responsibilities. 'Things aren’t up to me,' Hill told reporters after practice Tuesday, per team writer Michael Hull. 'I’m willing to do what I need to do to help us win football games.'"[1] In a press conference July 26, 2022, the Saints head coach said he wants to use Hill in a variety of roles this season to take advantage of his skill set.[2]

Hill was a quarterback with the Brigham Young University Cougars and finished his notable college career after the 2016 season.

He played football in his native Pocatello, Idaho. As a senior in high school, he was 2008 5A All-Idaho Player of the Year and Idaho’s Gatorade High School Player of the Year. He was listed as the 30th best quarterback prospect in the nation coming out of high school. He also lettered in basketball and track and field.

During his 2012 freshman year at BYU, he started in two games and played in six games where he completed 42 of 71 passes for 425 yards and four touchdowns before he suffered a season-ending knee injury. During his sophomore year (2013), he started all thirteen games and racked up a long list of awards and BYU records. He finished the season ranked as number 3 in BYU history for most rushing yards in one season. In 2014 at BYU, he was named to the Heisman Trophy watch list and other watch lists. He also suffered a season-ending leg fracture and ligament tear in the game against Utah State University.

In 2015, during his college football career, he was named to several watch lists, including the Maxwell Award, the Wuerffel Trophy, the Davey O’Brien Award, the Manning Award, the Walter Camp Player of the Year, and the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award. He suffered a season-ending Lisfranc injury in the Cougar’s opener against Nebraska in September 2015. He announced in February 2016 that he would finish at BYU, despite being recruited by coaches at other schools, including Bronco Mendenhall, who wanted Hill to join him at Virginia. He spent the off season with trainers, physicians, and conditioning experts and patiently followed their protocols. He competed with Tanner Magnum in August 2016 to start for BYU against Arizona.

He is considered one of the ‘’greatest all-around athletes to play at BYU.”[3]

Professional Career

After BYU, Hill was undrafted in 2017 and signed with the Green Bay Packers where he played three preseason games. He was waived on September 2, 2017. He plays quarterback for the New Orleans Saints of the NFL. He is also a kick returner and utility player. During his debut game, he was listed as the number three quarterback on the Saints’ depth chart. Early in the game he blocked a punt and helped force the punter to drop the snap. Then a tackle on a kickoff return pleased Head Coach Sean Payton and Payton said that Hill is the quarterback of the future once quarterback Drew Brees retires.

During the 2017 season, as the Saints’ third-string quarterback, he proved himself as a “Do-Everything Weapon.”[4]

In August 2019, he was called the “most exciting backup QB of all time.”[5]

As special teams player who has gained acclaim for his “versatility in the NFL,” Hill played a “unique, historic and major role” in the Saints’ nationally televised 26-18 victory over the Falcons on Thursday, November 28, 2019. “Hill scored two touchdowns, blocked a punt and hauled in another pass for good measure.” Saints’ coach Sean Payton tweeted of Hill, “I don’t know if there is anyone that enjoys playing football more than (Taysom Hill).[6]

It was announced on April 26, 2020, that Hill was re-signed by the Saints to a two-year, $21 million contract extension that includes $16 million full guaranteed at signing, with another $1 million in performance incentives. Hill had been a restricted free agent during the offseason. His three-year rookie contract with the Saints was worth just over $1.6 million.

He is considered a jack-of-all-trades for the Saints and a "Swiss Army Knife."[7]

He was starting quarterback for the first time on November 22, 2020, in a victory over the Atlanta Falcons. He stepped in for Hall of Famer Drew Brees, who was out on the injured reserve with 11 fractured ribs and a collapsed lung.[8]In addition to starting the game, he finished with 18 completions for 233 yards passing on 23 attempts and 51 yards rushing. He also scored two rushing touchdowns in the Saints’ 24-9 win over the Atlanta Falcons. Hill was quick to acknowledge the many prayers that had been offered for his well-being and success leading up to the game. “Feeling grateful tonight for the texts, calls, and well wishes I received leading up to this game,” Hill said on Instagram and Twitter. “It was humbling to hear how many people had me in their prayers, and I felt them today. I’m thankful for my teammates, my family, and the most incredible fans. #WhoDat #GiveThanks”[9] Members of the Church will recognize that Hill used #GiveThanks that President Nelson asked members of the Church to use in their expressions of gratitude on social media. On November 19, 2020, President Nelson gave a message of hope, healing and unity to help lift us out of the depths of COVID-19 and eradicate other plagues such as hatred and incivility.[10]

NFL Accolades

On October 12, 2022, Hill earned his first honor of his NFL career: he was named NFC Offensive Player of the Week. In the game against the Seattle Seahawks, "Hill rushed for 112 yards on nine attempts and scored three touchdowns in a 39-32 win over Seattle. He also completed a 22-yard touchdown pass, showing that he’s more than capable enough of passing the rock. On one of his runs against the Seahawks, Hill, who ran a 4.44 40-yard dash coming out of BYU in 2017, was clocked in at 20.7 miles per hour."[11]

His four touchdowns in the game propelled him into the NFL elite as "one of the greatest football players of all-time." "According to the NFL Media Research Department, just one other player in the Super Bowl era (since the NFL and AFL merged in 1967) has tallied at least 20 rushing touchdowns, eight passing touchdowns and six receiving touchdowns in a career: Chicago Bears legend Walter “Sweetness” Payton."[12]

He made NFL history during a November 5, 2023, game between the New Orleans Saints and the Chicago Bears. Hill scored the 10th receiving touchdown of his career. In doing so, he became one of only two NFL players to have at least 10 receiving touchdowns, 10 passing touchdowns and 25 rushing touchdowns during his time in the league. “He had his jersey sent to the Pro Football Hall of Fame last year after joining the NFL’s 10/10/10 club with 27 career rushing touchdowns, 11 receiving touchdowns and 11 passing touchdowns,” ESPN reported. Hill “led or tied the team in combined rushing and receiving touchdowns in 2022 and 2023.”[13]

“Hill joins Hall of Famer Frank Gifford as the only two players in league history to reach those numbers. In his seven-year career, Hill has become a triple-threat on offense, totaling 26 rushing, 11 passing and 10 receiving touchdowns,” according to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.[14]

Personal Life

Hill is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and served a full-time mission to Sydney, Australia. He married Emily Nixon in 2014.

At the April 2019 General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ, Elder Gary E. Stevenson included Hill in his talk:

We know Church members and priesthood holders who have experienced success at the highest levels of professional athletics. There are many good examples, but I can list only a few here for the sake of time. You might recognize some of these athletes: in baseball, Jeremy Guthrie and Bryce Harper; in basketball, Jabari Parker and Jimmer Fredette; in soccer, Ricardo Rojas; in rugby league, Will Hopoate; and in football, Taysom Hill and Daniel Sorensen. Each has made significant contributions to his sport.
While they are extremely successful in their sports, these athletes would be the first to admit they are not perfect athletes or perfect human beings. They work hard to be the best in their sport—and to live the gospel. They get up if they stumble, and they strive to endure to the end.

He later quoted Hill as saying: “Believing in [God’s] plan and doing my best to fulfill my role in it has given me an overwhelming sense of peace and happiness in life, knowing God is pleased with my efforts.”[15]

In April 2020, Hill hosted a Facebook live Q&A session with missionaries for the Church in his hometown of Pocatello, Idaho. topics Hill discussed with the missionaries during their nearly 30-minute conversation included what attributes define a champion, how fellow New Orleans quarterback and mentor Drew Brees epitomizes those attributes, what having a temple built in his hometown means to him, and how trials have shaped who he has become.

"The thing that [he and his wife have] realized is there are seasons in life, and you’ve got to make sure you take advantage of whatever season it is,” he said. “If it happens to be football season for me, I try and go be the best football player I possibly can because I know it’s going to benefit my wife, it’s going to benefit my family. But when it’s my offseason, I do my best to make sure that I’m the best husband, the best father — or future father — that I can be.”[16]
“We talked about being excellent at whatever you do. You need to be focused on those things, but you need to realize there are seasons in life and things are going to get out of balance, but I find time to read my scriptures, have personal prayer. My wife and I study the scriptures together, we pray together every night, and that doesn’t matter if we’re away from each other or it’s the offseason. That’s a priority for us, and we make sure we do it,” he said.[17]

Hill was born on August 3, 1990. He and his wife, Emily, are the parents of two sons, Beau Nixon Hill, born in August 2020, and Bennett Taysom Hill, born in April 2023. They married in the Salt Lake Temple in 2014.