One of the most exciting things about Wisconsin Badgers football season is watching the freshmen contribute and develop throughout the year.
Through two games of the 2017 season, both victories for Wisconsin, we have already seen that there are a number of true and redshirt freshmen who will be significant contributors.
Each week, I will rank the top three based on their respective positive impacts on the game. The Week 2 freshman power rankings are as follows:
3. Danny Davis, WR, true freshman
The final stat line for Davis—one catch for 35 yards—does not tell the whole story of the true freshman’s impact on Paul Chryst’s offense against FAU. It’s evident that Davis and sophomore wide receiver Quintez Cephus are Wisconsin’s two biggest vertical threats in the early part of the season. Davis, who technically started his first game against the Owls, caught the first pass of his career on the 35-yard route to the sideline on the Badgers’ second touchdown drive of the game. Chryst also used Davis in motion throughout the ballgame and was given one rushing attempt, a jet sweep that resulted in a one-yard gain. It’s clear that Chryst wants to use Davis’s speed in as many ways as he can, and the true freshman should continue to be an exciting big-play threat in the offense.
2. Tyler Biadasz, C, redshirt freshman
Last year’s starting center, Michael Deiter, bumped out to left tackle at the end of spring camp/beginning of fall camp due to the emergence of Biadasz, who has stepped in as the starter at one of the most important positions on the offensive line. Biadasz and his fellow linemen mauled the Owls’ defensive front and opened holes for running backs Jonathan Taylor and Chris James all afternoon. Wisconsin finished the game with 357 total rushing yards and physically overwhelmed FAU’s front seven in the win.
A former defensive lineman in high school, Biadasz used his redshirt season to develop on the offensive side of the ball and has been nothing but solid through his first two starts. It will be interesting to see how the 6’3’, 316-pounder performs against bigger defensive linemen in the Big Ten, but Biadasz has been a capable replacement for Deiter in his first two games with the Badgers.
1. Jonathan Taylor, RB, true freshman
Taylor followed up his efficient Week 1 performance (nine carries, 87 yards) with 223 rushing yards on 26 carries against FAU. The true freshman added three touchdowns and finished the game with a ridiculous 8.6 yards per carry. Taylor was named the Big Ten’s Co-Offensive Player and Freshman of the Week for his performance, and joined Zach Brown and Heisman Trophy winners Alan Ameche and Ron Dayne as the only Wisconsin true freshmen to rush for over 200 yards in a game.
Even with substantial hype entering this season, Taylor’s dominance through two games has been something to behold. With fellow starter Bradrick Shaw out with a right leg injury, Taylor was given a more substantial work load and was Wisconsin’s best offensive player against the Owls. With touchdown runs of 29 and 64 yards, Taylor continues to show a knack for breaking off long runs. It’s worth noting that Taylor lost a fumble in the game, but the true freshman’s spectacular play the first two weeks has been the biggest story of Wisconsin’s season.