Brigham Young University boasts many award winners over the years, including 1990 Heisman Trophy recipient, quarterback Ty Detmer.
Detmer is the last player to win college football’s most prestigious award from a school outside of what is now called a Power 5 conference. How did Detmer do it? A lot of it stemmed from BYU’s success before that 1990 season. Remember, BYU was only six years removed from being a national champion.
The Cougars had a reputation nationally of producing elite quarterbacks, and winning big games. Arguably the biggest win for BYU in program history was when Detmer and his ’90 BYU squad knocked off No. 1-ranked Miami, when the Hurricanes were one of college football’s most dominant programs.
In 2015 Taysom Hill doesn’t lead a BYU program that is viewed as a national contender like Detmer did, nor will Hill face a team on the 2015 schedule like those swaggerlicious Hurricanes. But what Hill has in common with Detmer is the ability to rack up eye-popping stats, and to Hill’s credit, he will be facing arguably BYU’s toughest schedule ever. The now-defunct WAC was a competitive league, but it doesn’t compare to facing Nebraska, Boise State, UCLA, Michigan and Missouri in a season.
When people in the college football world think of Taysom Hill, they instantly go back to the dominating performances that he has had against the Texas Longhorns the past two years.
How many QBs do you see with a knee brace running for 259 yards in a game, or hurdling over talented Texas defensive backs? The answer is none. Hill is a unique breed of quarterback. He’s built like an All-American linebacker or safety, playing the quarterback position.
After defeating the Longhorns in dominating fashion again last season in Austin, the nation was buzzing about Hill and BYU. He was thrown into the Heisman discussion, and he followed up that performance against Texas with great showings against Houston and Virginia to put BYU at 4-0, and in the top 20 of the polls.
Then for the second time in three seasons, Hill suffered a season-ending injury against Utah State, and the same Aggie defender made the tackle, Brian Suite. Suite is no longer at USU, so that should give folks more hope that Hill can stay healthy for the entire 2015 season, which he will need to do if he has any hopes to earn the Heisman.
Along with staying healthy, Hill will need to put up video game-like numbers, and lead BYU to a lot of wins. Hill has already shown an ability to produce the big numbers, and he’s shown when healthy, he wins.
In 2013, Hill’s only season where he played all 13 games, he racked up 4,282 total yards. Hill also is only the 12th quarterback in FBS history to eclipse 4,000 yards passing and 2,000 rushing yards entering his senior season.
This is a wide-open year for the Heisman Trophy. With how unique of a player Hill is, and the quality of opponents BYU will be facing in the early part of its schedule, his Heisman stock could rise in a hurry. The downfall for Hill is that he’s not on a team from a Power 5 conference. BYU is an interesting case because the Cougars aren’t affiliated with any Power 5 leagues, but at time same time, the SEC and Big Ten consider the Cougars as a P5 opponent when it comes to scheduling non-conference opponents.
How will voters view Hill? It’s an interesting question. BYU already has four games scheduled on ESPN networks, and that number will continue to grow as all of BYU’s home games (except versus Wagner) will be on a channel owned by the world-wide leader. Also, you have to think games against Michigan and Missouri that are away from Provo, Utah, will end up on networks that the nation can watch. If the Cougars are winning, they will get the visible slots for the nation to take in Hill’s potential “Heisman Moments.”
For a player like Hill that is outside of the Power 5 establishment, getting an invite from the Downtown Athletic Club to New York City is probably the ceiling right now. In this year of no clear-cut favorites to take home the Heisman, college football needs a star, why can’t Taysom Hill be that guy?
— Written by Mitch Harper, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Harper is the BYU reporter and insider for 1320 KFAN and co-host of "The Cougar Center" podcast. Follow him on Twitter @Mitch_Harper.