Taysom Hill probably could have imagined better circumstances for his blue turf debut, but the true freshman didnt hesitate when he was handed the reins of BYUs offense with 8 minutes, 19 seconds remaining in the third quarter.
After senior starter Riley Nelson was tagged with a fumble and three interceptions, Hill the only Idahoan on the Cougars roster was charged with reviving BYUs sputtering offense.
The 6-foot-2, 218-pound Highland High graduate nearly staged the upset, leading the Cougars on a 95-yard, 11-play drive late in the fourth quarter that finished with Hills 4-yard touchdown run.
But Hills potential game-winning two-point conversion pass was batted down and Boise State held on for a 7-6 win Thursdayat Bronco Stadium.
Its a tough environment. We had the momentum there, so I dont blame coach (Bronco) Mendenhall for doing it, Hill said. Its just a tough break.
Originally committed to Stanford out of high school, Hill returned from a two-year church mission in Australia last December and decided to change his commitment after Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh left for the San Francisco 49ers.
So far, the move has proven to be a good one.
Its been a long (journey) and a lot of curves in the road, but its been a great experience, Hill said. Its clear that BYU is where I needed to be and there is a lot of opportunity here. I love the coaching staff and I love the team and it was great to come back to Idaho and be able to play in that third and fourth quarter.
Hills extended time away from football wasnt noticeable Thursday night. He finished 4-for-10 passing for 42 yards and added a team-leading 12 carries for 72 yards and the teams only score.
Hills self-assured nature is familiar to Idaho football fans.
As a senior in high school in Pocatello, he shrugged off the pressure of living up to his Pac-12 commitment, leading Highland to its most recent 5A state championship in 2008. He passed for 2,269 yards and 18 touchdowns, while adding 1,491 rushing yards and another 24 rushing touchdowns.
At the time, Highland coach Gino Mariani called Hill the best football player I have had the pleasure of coaching. Athletically, he is second to none.
After Thursdays pressure-packed performance against the No. 24 Broncos, Hill has made a convincing case for more playing time.
Obviously I want to play. Thats the competitive nature in me, Hill said. But thats ultimately up to the coaches and well just get ready and prepare for our next game.
Rachel Roberts: 377-6422