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Jonathan Taylor is very good at football

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Part a lot in a continuing series on broken records.

Central Michigan v Wisconsin Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

This week, Wisconsin’s star tailback Jonathan Taylor will be held to zero yards rushing, which is only a bold prediction until you see the Badgers don’t play this week. Let’s spend this time looking where he stands in the college football history books.

Note - all stats taken from the wonderful time-sink that is Sports-Reference.com

Most Yards Through Any Two Seasons

One of the lines Wisconsin’s PR department is fond of using to promote Taylor’s Heisman campaign is that nobody in the history of college football has rushed for more yards through their first two seasons. But heck, there’s a lot of ways to combine two seasons! How does his 4171 look all time?

Best Pair of Rushing Seasons By A Player

Total Yds Player School Yds Year 2nd Best Year
Total Yds Player School Yds Year 2nd Best Year
4196 Melvin Gordon Wisconsin 2587 2014 1609
4195 Troy Davis Iowa State 2185 1996 2010
4171 Jonathan Taylor Wisconsin 2194 2018 1977
4143 Ron Dayne Wisconsin 2109 1996 2034
4132 LaDainian Tomlinson Texas Christian 1974 1999 2158
4017 Ricky Williams Texas 2124 1998 1893
4000 Donnel Pumphrey San Diego State 2133 2016 1867
3990 Marcus Allen USC 2427 1981 1563
3912 DeAngelo Williams Memphis 1948 2004 1964
3909 Charles White USC 2050 1979 1859
3837 Mike Rozier Nebraska 2148 1983 1689
3836 Tony Dorsett Pitt 2150 1976 1686
3814 Ka'Deem Carey Arizona 1929 2012 1885
3806 Ray Rice Rutgers 2012 2007 1794
3753 Montee Ball Wisconsin 1923 2011 1830
3745 Kevin Smith UCF 2567 2007 1178
3735 Jordan Lynch Northern Illinois 1920 2013 1815
3699 Ezekiel Elliott Ohio State 1878 2014 1821
3638 Lorenzo White Michigan State 2066 1985 1572
3622 Christian McCaffrey Stanford 2019 2015 1603
Hey, I know those guys up top!

That’s some spectacular company. You have:

  1. The guy who set the single-game rushing record in 3 quarters and made an entire stadium feel like children, unchecked by the injuries of experience and failure.
  2. The guy who will be forever in the top 5 for single-season Big 8 rushing, and currently holds the top spot for Big 12 rushing.
  3. The protagonist of our story.
  4. The all-time leader in rushing.

Oh, another leaderboard that involves rushing that features a lot of Badgers near the top, look at that didn’t even notice.

What makes Jonathan Taylor particularly unique is that he’s the dominant running back as a freshman. Barry Sanders’ 1988 season is the current single season record, but in 1987 Thurman Thomas was the main workhorse for Oklahoma State. Melvin Gordon’s sophomore year saw him splitting carries with James White. For every multi-year workhorse like Ricky Williams or Ron Dayne, college football has multiple backs that only shined bright for one season.

Vaulting Up The Leaderboard

Current Career Rushing Leaderboard

Rk Player Yds From To School
Rk Player Yds From To School
68 Jonathan Taylor 4408 2017 Central Mich Wisconsin
69 Johnathan Franklin 4403 2009 2012 UCLA
70 Kalvin McRae 4398 2004 2007 Ohio
70 Javon Ringer 4398 2005 2008 Michigan State
72 Jamie Morris 4392 1984 1987 Michigan
73 Amos Lawrence 4391 1977 1980 North Carolina
74 Troy Davis 4382 1994 1996 Iowa State
75 Deland McCullough 4368 1992 1995 Miami (OH)
76 Mewelde Moore 4364 2000 2003 Tulane
77 Jordan Lynch 4343 2010 2013 Northern Illinois
78 Autry Denson 4318 1995 1998 Notre Dame
78 David Thompson 4318 1993 1996 Oklahoma State
80 Noel Devine 4315 2007 2010 West Virginia
Jonathan Taylor 4306 2017 USF Wisconsin
81 Bo Jackson 4303 1982 1985 Auburn
82 Elijah McGuire 4301 2013 2016 Louisiana
83 Stepfan Taylor 4300 2009 2012 Stanford
84 Mike Mayweather 4299 1987 1990 Army
87 Joe Morris 4299 1978 1981 Syracuse
86 Brian Hill 4287 2014 2016 Wyoming
86 Devin Singletary 4287 2016 2018 Florida Atlantic
88 Matt Forte 4265 2004 2007 Tulane
89 Chris Lemon 4246 1996 1999 Nevada
90 Reggie Taylor 4242 1983 1986 Cincinnati
91 Ka'Deem Carey 4239 2011 2013 Arizona
92 Lance Dunbar 4224 2008 2011 North Texas
93 Shock Linwood 4213 2013 2016 Baylor
94 Tico Duckett 4212 1989 1992 Michigan State
95 Brad Smith 4193 2002 2005 Missouri
96 Jerome Persell 4190 1976 1978 Western Michigan
97 Zach Line 4185 2009 2012 SMU
98 Ian Johnson 4183 2005 2008 Boise State
99 Kendall Hunter 4181 2007 2010 Oklahoma State
100 Napoleon McCallum 4179 1981 1985 Navy
101 Ralph Webb 4178 2014 2017 Vanderbilt
102 Tyrone Wheatley 4178 1991 1994 Michigan
103 George Swarn 4172 1983 1986 Miami (OH)
Jonathan Taylor 4171 2017 2018 Wisconsin
Stats showing Taylor’s leaps after each of the first two games

After a comparatively workmanlike pair of games, he still jumps over 30 spots in the career listing. Notable names include ‘Tecmo’ Bo Jackson, Ian Johnson from Boise State over Oklahoma fame, and Troy Davis, who was very recently featured in this very article.

We at Bucky’s 5th Quarter will continue to follow Taylor’s ascent up the all-time leaderboards in every rushing statistic throughout the season.