Jim Harbaugh's own experience in mentoring dual-threat Football Championship Subdivision/Division I-AA legend Josh Johnson at the University of San Diego should make Stanford fans welcome the prospect of new quarterback commit Taysom Hill's versatile skills developing under a confidence-breeding mentor like Stanford's second-year head coach. With Harbaugh coaching him for the first three of his four college seasons, Johnson became a three-time All-American and 2008 fifth-round draft pick of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Whether it is a current quarterback on Stanford's roster such as Tavita Pritchard, Alex Loukas, or Jason Forcier, incoming 5-star recruit Andrew Luck, or a future player such as Taysom Hill, Stanford fans will be looking for the next award-winning Harbaugh disciple to emerge. Hill's rare combination of arm strength and foot speed certainly make him an intriguing possibility.
Before Hill ends up at Stanford, however, there are a few other major events in his life that will intervene to delay an eventual union with Harbaugh and Stanford Football. First, of course is the fact that Hill still has his senior year of high school ahead of him. Second, Hill is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and plans on taking an LDS mission before enrolling in college. Those plans will delay his eventual matriculation to Stanford and, in effect, make him a member of the 2011 recruiting class rather than the current class.
"I plan on serving an LDS mission," Hill confirms. "I will turn 19 on August 23rd a year from now so the plan is to go right when I get out of high school and then I'll come back and I'll be at Stanford for the 2011 season, get back then. I'll be there and, depending on how things go, [take a] possible redshirt year and then go into the 2012 season as a redshirt freshman."
The plan for Hill thus calls for him to not arrive on the Farm until 2011 and then possibly take a redshirt season to get back into shape and to get acclimated to college academically, athletically, and socially. Such a plan means that he could overlap with incoming U.S Army All-American Andrew Luck for as little as a single year, which could be a redshirt year for Hill, and no more than two years. On a more personal level, it also means that he will enter Stanford as a grown man with two years of mission experience to prepare him to be an adult member of society broadly and the LDS Church specifically.
"It's a good thing," Hill opines on the mission experience. "To be out two years and be doing that is definitely a time to grow up and mature and I think that will make me a better quarterback at Stanford and a better student and overall a better person. I don't think there's any negative effect that can come from it. I'll be back and I'll be able to get back in shape. Mainly it's just two years being away from everybody and not much contact with them. It's not an easy thing to do. It's a time to grow up and mature."
In light of these plans to serve a mission, the attitude of prospective college coaches toward accepting delayed reward for their work on the recruiting trail loomed as a significant consideration for Hill.
"Yes, and that was one of the things that I hit on earlier," he says when asked about whether Stanford's coaches have been supportive of his plans. "When we were first going through all of this I asked Coach Harbaugh 'Hey, would your recruiting of me change if I told you I was going to serve a mission?' And he said not at all. It would change the aspect of how Stanford recruited. And that was one of the things that I meant when I said he never wavered in me. He's seen my game film and he wants me. And he's never wavered. He's completely supportive. Also, my recruiting coach, Coach [Lance] Anderson, is also LDS so he knows the ins and outs of it and I've talked to him quite a bit about it and talk to Coach Harbaugh. They're nothing but supportive about it and will definitely work with me."
Additionally, like any other recruit who plans on going to Stanford, Hill's plans eventually to enroll are contingent upon being accepted to the school through the school's admissions process. Hill understands that and embraces the challenge of presenting a stellar academic profile to Stanford Admissions.
"Definitely with Stanford they come with the reputation of academics," he begins in describing his own focus on academics when it comes to LSJU. "As we talked earlier, that was definitely one of the strong points for me to attend Stanford. I don't know where else you could get an education like that and also be playing BCS football. That is definitely a strong point and I have a 4.0 right now and I'm enrolled in some AP classes and that sort of thing to help me be eligible for Stanford and meet their criteria. It's not an easy thing to do but I think the rewards of it will definitely be a lot greater down the road."
"I'm in AP Language and an AP Government class right now. I have those two cores AP plus another two cores and weights and that sort of thing," Hill continues in outlining the kind of advanced coursework he is enrolled in. "It definitely won't be one of those laid-back senior years. It's going to be pretty rigorous and a lot will be expected from these courses, but that's just another thing going for Stanford. That's what makes Stanford Football that much more special, the criteria that they have for recruiting."
As Hill prepares for the rigorous course load that he will tackle in the midst of his final season of high school football, he is also gearing up for an additional task to add on to the list for the fall as he plans on retaking the ACT. "Yes, I've taken the ACT but I have to take it again in October to try to get that score up - to get up to what Stanford expects of you," he shares.
Hill has an additional short-term goal that is required in order to gain admission to Stanford: filling out the actual Stanford application. "Yes, yes, I have an application," Hill reveals regarding that central aspect of the admissions process. "It's pretty lengthy, there's a lot of things to do with the application, but yeah I got that and will be working on that this summer."
As Taysom Hill works on his application and does the work necessary to eventually matriculate to Stanford following his two-year LDS mission, we will be sure to keep an eye on the strong-armed, fleet-footed Gem State quarterback.
Scout.com ranks Taysom Hill as the #22 quarterback and #204 overall prospect in the nation.
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