As BYU's profile has risen this season, with talk of the Cougars potentially finishing unbeaten, so, too, has junior quarterback Taysom Hill's.
Hill is showing up on more and more Heisman watch lists, and he'll remain on them as long as he continues to produce and as long as BYU continues to win.
"I try to do my best to stay in the moment," he told reporters earlier this week. "We have to keep winning and we're going to get some great publicity for our program and our school. But I know in order for that to happen we just have to take care of business."
Saturday's game against Virginia is one of the best of the weekend, and Hill's presence in the BYU backfield ensures that the Cavaliers are in for a tough day.
Hill (6-foot-2, 232 pounds) has thrown for 689 yards and four TDs and has rushed for another 356 yards; he is tied for third nationally with six rushing touchdowns. His size and dual-threat ability impressed Texas defensive coordinator Vance Bedford -- and that was before Hill accounted for 280 yards of total offense and three TDs in the Cougars' 41-7 rout. On a 30-yard TD run, Hill hurdled a Longhorns defender on his way to the end zone.
"To be honest, and you're going to laugh at this, but he reminds me a lot of a quarterback that won the Heisman Trophy at the University of Florida," Bedford told reporters Sept. 3. "He's 235 pounds. He's a strong guy, like a fullback when he gets the football in his hands. He's a little Tim Tebow-ish -- running around, make plays.
"He's faster than you think he is. He throws well on the run. Third down and short, he becomes a fullback."
Bedford was the secondary coach at Florida in 2008 and '09, Tebow's junior and senior seasons.
Hill accounted for 360 total yards and two touchdowns when BYU beat Houston last week.
"When you talk about dual-threat -- if you looked up a dual-threat quarterback in a dictionary, they should have his picture there as an example," Cougars coach Tony Levine told reporters.
Hill, from Pocatello, Idaho, signed with Stanford out of high school as part of the 2009 recruiting class. But he went on a Mormon mission out of high school, and when he returned from his mission in Australia, he decided to attend BYU. One of his older brothers, Jordan, was a defensive tackle at Arizona State and finished up his eligibility in 2006.
Taysom Hill became BYU's starter midway through his freshman season in 2012, beating out Riley Nelson, but suffered a knee injury and missed the final seven games of the season. As a sophomore last season, the starting job was all Hill's. While he finished 10th nationally in total offense (his 4,282 yards were fifth-most in school history), he was an inconsistent passer; he completed just 53.9 percent of his passes and threw 19 TDs and 14 interceptions. He did run for 1,344 yards and 10 TDs, though.
This season, his completion percentage is up to 68.4, though along with his four TDs, he also has thrown three interceptions. Still, there's no doubt he is BYU's most important player.
Virginia beat BYU 19-16 last season and Hill had the worst passing day of his career, going 13-of-40 for 175 yards, a TD and an interception. He also rushed for 42 yards and a score. But despite the modest stats, Virginia linebacker Henry Coley was impressed then and remains so.
"He definitely put that team on his back, day in and day out. Even last year, he took some hits," Coley told reporters this week. "I told him after the game, 'You got heart, man.' ... I don't want to say he is the team, but in my eyes, he kind of is the team."