By John O’Connell
Idaho State Journal
SUN VALLEY – Pocatello native and pro football “Swiss Army knife” Taysom Hill has a lot in common with an Idaho russet, if you ask Idaho Potato Commission President and CEO Frank Muir.
Muir explained that Hill, a New Orleans Saints player with a knack for playing several positions, is as versatile as an Idaho potato, making the athlete an ideal choice to promote the crop the world associates with his home state.
During the Idaho Grower Shippers Association’s annual meeting Aug. 29 in Sun Valley, Muir announced that Hill has agreed to star in a social media campaign on behalf of Idaho spuds.
Hill, a 2009 Highland High School graduate, started at quarterback for Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, before joining the Saints, where he’s turned heads with his diverse skillset.
He also boasts one of the team’s most popular selling jerseys. Last year, Hill made tackles, threw passes, caught passes, ran the ball and returned kicks and punts.
“What we’ll try to do is show how versatile he is. While we can’t necessarily show off NFL footage without the NFL’s permission, we certainly can have him talk about it,” Muir said. “It’s akin to how versatile an Idaho russet is.”
Indeed, the IPC’s website boasts a database of about 1,600 Idaho potato recipes, ranging from creative sides, such as vegan deviled Idaho red potatoes, to gourmet entrees, including Idaho potato Mexican tamale spheres.
“He has become a beloved person in New Orleans,” Muir said. “This guy is incredible.”
Though Muir said details of the arrangement with Hill have yet to be finalized, Hill will likely produce videos and photographs that will be widely shared through various social media platforms and posted on the IPC website — idahopotato.com.
The IPC has a history of partnering with NFL personalities. TV sports reporter Heather Cox had an agreement through which she produced social media promotional materials featuring the IPC’s mascot, Spuddy Buddy, at NFL and college games.
Hill is also no stranger to Spuddy Buddy. Muir explained Hill posed with the plush, grinning potato mascot in a tweet he sent encouraging his former teammates last year, when BYU participated in the IPC-sponsored Famous Idaho Potato Bowl, hosted at Boise State University.
Muir anticipates the Hill campaign will start within the next few months. He said the IPC will have to work within Hill’s busy schedule.
“He’s very selective of who he will work with, and he loves the idea of working with Idaho potatoes,” Muir said, adding Hill’s agent is also “on board.”
Muir said it’s yet to be determined if the relationship with Hill will build and grow into a long-term partnership.
“I’m not looking for him to be a spokesperson so to speak. ... We’re working with celebrities to do things that make sense,” Muir said.
Muir sees another similarity between the Pocatello native turned NFL standout and Idaho potatoes. Both are known for their high quality, Muir said.
“Everything about him is positive,” Muir said. “The kid has got a lot of ethics and good values. That’s what we like to work with is somebody who reflects what we think is a quality brand.”