Pocatello native Taysom Hill never shied away from contact during his career at Highland High or at BYU.
The New Orleans Saints are quickly learning that too.
The 27-year-old entered fall camp battling to become the backup quarterback to Drew Brees. But he knows there are plenty of other ways to make an NFL roster. And he’s not missing any opportunities.
After creating a sensation last season on special teams, Hill continues to work with the Saints’ kickoff team early in camp. He delivered one of the biggest hits so far this fall, decleating cornerback Arthur Maulet during a kickoff drill Friday.
“I definitely want to be a QB for a long time. I want a long career in the NFL,” Hill told the New Orleans Advocate. “In the NFL, there’s only 53 spots, and you look at the QB position, there’s only one guy that plays. So the other guy, it’s kind of a dead position on game day.”
Hill said the collision was an accident. The Saints were still in helmets and shorts during the drill, and the force of the hit caught Maulet off guard. But the blow served as another example of the 6-foot-2, 221-pound Hill’s strength and athleticism.
Saints quarterbacks coach Joe Lombardi told reporters in June the Highland High grad might be the strongest player, pound for pound, on New Orleans’ roster.
“The guy is a freak athlete,” Lombardi said. “I’ve never seen anyone like him at this position.”
That athleticism allowed the Saints to deploy Hill on special teams last season after they claimed him off waivers from the Green Bay Packers. He appeared in five games, made four tackles and forced a bobbled snap on punt coverage that led to rave reviews from FOX broadcaster Troy Aikman.
Aikman relayed what New Orleans coach Sean Payton told him earlier that week.
“He not only likes Taysom Hill, he loves Taysom Hill,” Aikman said. “Their future quarterback is Taysom Hill.”
Payton later said those comments were overblown and taken out of context. But the Saints’ offseason moves show they believe in Hill enough to give him a chance to back up, and possibly succeed, the 39-year-old Brees.
New Orleans let last season’s backup quarterback, Chase Daniel, walk in the offseason. But Hill still needs to beat out veteran Tom Savage and undrafted free agent J.T. Barrett in camp.
This year marks Hill’s first offseason with the Saints, and he said he dove headfirst into learning the nuances of the playbook and Brees’ timing and footwork.
“It’s one thing to be able to sit in the classroom and to learn everything you’re supposed to do,” Hill told the Times-Picayune. “But until you actually have an opportunity to get out on the field and rep it and see everything happen, it’s really hard to cement that in your head. And so that’s been a ton of fun.”
Hill added he doesn’t see special teams duty as a distraction or a danger. Instead, he’s embracing the work to make himself as valuable as possible. So even if Savage or Barrett beat him out for the backup spot, he’ll still have a path onto the roster.
“We’ve had conversations about it, and we’re doing what we can to make sure that I don’t get injured,” Hill told a group of reporters. “I think in this league you’ve got to take risks. There is so much that’s put on a quarterback from a mental standpoint. With special teams, there’s not a lot of thinking that goes into that. You just go down and you make plays.”
IDAHO-BORN QBS IN THE NFL
Taysom Hill could become the sixth Idaho-born quarterback to throw a pass in an NFL game.