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Taysom Hill no stranger to overcoming adversity

Former BYU QB conquered injuries to make NFL dream a reality


GREEN BAY – Taysom Hill heard plenty of stories from close friends and family members about how crazy the third and final day of the NFL Draft can be.

So the BYU senior quarterback and his wife, Emily, improvised and instead did what most couples do on Saturday afternoons.

They ran errands.

"We kept ourselves busy and kept ourselves preoccupied," Hill said. "I obviously made sure my phone was on loud and stuff, doing different things so I wasn't just watching."

There wasn't much to worry about from Hill's perspective. He'd already been prepped on what to expect during the final day of the draft from former teammates and his brother-in-law, David Nixon, a former BYU linebacker and undrafted free agent who played four seasons in the NFL.

While Hill hoped to be drafted, he and his agents put together a list of five possible NFL destinations if he were to go undrafted.

At the top was the Green Bay Packers, whom he'd visited during the pre-draft process. When the call finally came from Green Bay, the decision was a no-brainer.

"I felt like it was a good situation for me and a good spot for me," said Hill, who's one of 15 undrafted rookies to sign with the Packers. "We followed Green Bay through the draft until it was over. When I received an opportunity to come here as a free agent, it was pretty easy to jump on."

Hill, a 6-foot-2, 235-pound quarterback, had an interesting college journey. Originally recruited to Stanford by Jim Harbaugh, Hill went on a two-year mission to Sydney, Australia, before starting his playing career.

During that time, Harbaugh became an NFL head coach in San Francisco and Hill opted to reopen his recruitment. He chose to sign with BYU, whose coaching staff actively recruited him out of Highland High School in Pocatello, Idaho.

Hill played right away at BYU as a freshman. He started two games at quarterback, producing 761 total yards, before sustaining a season-ending knee injury.

Unfortunately for Hill, injuries would prematurely end his season on multiple occasions, including a foot injury he sustained in the 2015 opener that forced him to take a medical redshirt.

Despite the setbacks, Hill kept his focus. He had dreams of playing in the NFL and was willing to do whatever it took to end his college career on a high note.

Hill got that opportunity under new BYU head coach Kalani Sitake and first-year offensive coordinator Ty Detmer, the former Heisman Trophy winner and Packers quarterback from 1992-95.

Hill totaled 2,926 total yards of offense with 20 touchdowns as a senior, leading the Cougars to a 9-4 record and 24-21 victory over Wyoming in the Poinsettia Bowl.

"It was a whirlwind, for sure," said Hill of his college career. "Each time, I felt like we were playing really well, things were going really well during our season. To play such an integral part of a football team as a starting quarterback and to go out for the season because of an injury, that was difficult to overcome and manage.

"I think stayed optimistic. I was persistent. I kept working at it and the opportunity finally came."

Hill believes BYU's change from a spread offense to a pro-style scheme helped him prepare for the NFL. He became more comfortable operating under center and working off play-action.

The system also played to his athleticism. Hill rushed for 603 yards and eight touchdowns as a senior, finishing his career as the fifth all-time leading rusher in program history and first among quarterbacks (2,815 yards).

There was some buzz about Hill potentially making a position switch after he participated in a few running back drills at his BYU pro day, but most NFL teams saw his future at the quarterback position.

So did Hill.

"I'd characterize myself as a dual-threat quarterback and a guy who can make plays with his feet when things aren't there," Hill said. "I think my biggest thing is I want to do whatever it takes to win football games. Sometimes that's taking a few extra hits that our coaching staff wasn't super-thrilled about. But I want to go give our team the best chance to win. That's kind of my mindset."

After signing with Green Bay, Hill quickly began trading messages with Detmer. The decision also reunited Hill with BYU running back Jamaal Williams, the Cougars' all-time leading rusher whom the Packers selected in the fourth round (134th overall).

The two were members of the same 2012 recruiting class and have been in constant communication since Hill agreed to sign with the Packers.

"I love the kid and he's deserved everything he's achieved and everything that's come his way," Hill said of Williams. "We kind of laughed together during spring ball last year that it was 2016 and we were still on the field together. We were like, 'Who would have thought this would've been the situation?' I'm glad it worked out the way that it did."

Now in Green Bay, Hill is looking forward to competing for a spot this summer and learning from two-time MVP quarterback Aaron Rodgers.

"I can't think of anybody better to learn from and have the opportunity to see how he prepares for games and how he does it," Hill said. "He's obviously one of the best to ever do it. It's a great opportunity and I'm very excited about it."

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