One of the most exciting things about Wisconsin Badgers football season is watching the freshmen contribute and develop throughout the year.
Through three games of the 2017 season, all 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 3 freshman power rankings are as follows:
3. WR Danny Davis (true freshman)
Against BYU, Davis continued to show why he is Wisconsin’s most dangerous deep-ball threat.
On the first play of the Badgers’ second drive of the game, Davis hauled in a 50-yard pass from quarterback Alex Hornibrook. Davis displayed exceptional ball skills on the catch, as he turned around and caught the football at its highest point while being draped by a defender.
Davis’s catch came at the perfect time, as it shifted momentum back to the Badgers after the Cougars had just evened the score on a field goal at the end of a 14-play, 61-yard drive.
The true freshman led the team with 67 receiving yards on two catches, and through three games has been a legitimate big-play threat that opposing defensive backs will have to respect.
2. CB Dontye Carriere-Williams (redshirt freshman)
Carriere-Williams had a coming-out party at BYU, finishing Saturday’s game with a team-leading eight tackles and his first career interception. The redshirt freshman’s interception came in the fourth quarter on an underthrown ball by BYU quarterback Beau Hoge.
The third cornerback position was an area of concern heading into the season, but it seems that Carriere-Williams has settled in nicely at one of the most important positions on the defense. His inexperience was picked on a bit in the first half, as Hoge completed at least three passes to receivers that he was assigned to. That being said, the Fort Lauderdale, Fla., native made some impressive open-field tackles throughout the game and will continue to learn on the job under the tutelage of Jim Leonhard.
1. RB Jonathan Taylor (true freshman)
An obvious but deserving choice for No. 1, Taylor continued his hot start to the season with 128 rushing yards on 18 carries and a touchdown against BYU. Through three games, the true freshman has now rushed for 438 yards (sixth in the nation) and five touchdowns, but his efficiency is what really stands out to me. Taylor has gained an impressive 8.3 yards per carry on the year and hits open holes with an acceleration we haven’t seen from a Wisconsin running back since Melvin Gordon in 2014. Faced with his first real challenge of the season, Taylor ran all over BYU and finished the game with six rushes of 10-plus-yards.
Even with talented running backs Bradrick Shaw and Chris James competing for carries behind him, Taylor has just been too dynamic to take off the field and Paul Chryst figures to keep featuring the true freshman the rest of the year. The schedule will get tougher as the Badgers move into Big Ten play, but Taylor’s performance during the non-conference part of the season has been nothing short of spectacular.