clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Wisconsin football: 3.51 Miles

Let’s go for a walk around campus.

Bascom Hall, University Of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisconsin. Photo by Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Jonathan Taylor has cleaned out his locker and declared for the NFL Draft, putting his collegiate career rushing total at 6,174 yards. The yard, as you are well aware, is a unit of measure only found on a football field. Colloquially, it’s somewhere between ‘the land I have to mow’ and ‘a large amount of beer in a vertical glass’ in frequency of usage. Did you know we can convert football yards to miles by dividing by 1,760, thus getting a more common form of distance?

First, let’s create a route starting from Miss Forward on the Square down State Street to the top of Bascom Hill before we snake down the Dayton Street path to Camp Randall. We’ll then take Breese to Old University, crossing Campus Drive on the bridge to get to Observatory, the Lakeshore Path and finishing at Picnic Point. Our entire path is based on Ron Dayne’s 4.05 miles, but where do others in Badger history end up?

Tour Madison With Badger Rushing As Your Guide

UW Rank Player Year Miles Distance
UW Rank Player Year Miles Distance
1 Ron Dayne 1999 4.05 Picnic Point
2 Jonathan Taylor 2019 3.51 1/3rd of Picnic Point Path
3 Montee Ball 2012 2.92 Lake Monona Boat Dock
4 Melvin Gordon 2014 2.79 Marching Band Field
5 Anthony Davis 2004 2.66 Lakeshore Path @ Nat
6 James White 2013 2.28 Near East Fields
7 P.J. Hill 2008 2.24 Agicultural Engineering Laboratory
8 Billy Marek 1975 2.11 Ramp Across Campus Drive
9 Brent Moss 1994 1.95 US Naval ROTC
10 Terrell Fletcher 1994 1.94 US Naval ROTC
11 John Clay 2010 1.94 US Naval ROTC
13 Larry Emery 1986 1.69 Camp Randall Gate 5
14 Rufus Ferguson 1972 1.6 McClain Athletic Facility
18 Michael Bennett 2000 1.12 Sterling Hall
19 Brooks Bollinger 2002 1 Van Vleck
24 Brian Calhoun 2005 0.93 Top of Bascom Hill
30 Mike Morgan 1977 0.77 Foot of Bascom Hill
37 Gary Ellerson 1983 0.63 Memorial Library & UW Bookstore
44 Bradrick Shaw 2019 0.53 City Bar
57 Tanner McEvoy 2015 0.4 Stop And Shop
75 David Gilreath 2010 0.25 Parthenon Gyros
89 Russell Wilson 2011 0.19 Noodles & Company
100 Jared Abbrederis 2013 0.17 Nick's
I intentionally left off your favorite place.

I don’t think anyone would be surprised that of the top 11 rushers in Wisconsin history, only Billy Marek’s career ended before 1993. Between Barry Alvarez installing an affection for running the ball state-wide and playing in more games, the top of the list is dominated by those that toted the rock most recently.

My big takeaway is the amount of backs (and wideouts, and QB’s) that did a little bit. Nick’s to City Bar is not that far, but in those most iconic blocks of State Street you can find the 44th through 100th top rushers in Wisconsin history. Part of why college football is amazing is just how big it is in every dimension, and that includes how many Badgers ran for somewhere between a fifth and a half-mile. Some did it on end-arounds or QB draws, others got spot carriers in mop-up time for a few seasons before taking on a backup role.

Now, the career leader board.

College Football Career Rushing Leaders

Rk Player Yds From To School
Rk Player Yds From To School
1 Ron Dayne 7125 1996 1999 Wisconsin
2 Tony Dorsett 6526 1973 1976 Pitt
3 Donnel Pumphrey 6405 2013 2016 San Diego State
4 Ricky Williams 6279 1995 1998 Texas
5 Charles White 6245 1976 1979 USC
6 Jonathan Taylor 6174 2017 2019 Wisconsin
Jonathan Taylor 6080 2017 Ohio State Wisconsin
7 DeAngelo Williams 6026 2002 2005 Memphis
Jonathan Taylor 5932 2017 Minnesota Wisconsin
Jonathan Taylor 5856 2017 Purdue Wisconsin
Jonathan Taylor 5634 2017 Nebraska Wisconsin
8 Royce Freeman 5621 2014 2017 Oregon
9 Travis Prentice 5596 1996 1999 Miami (OH)
10 Archie Griffin 5589 1972 1975 Ohio State
11 Cedric Benson 5540 2001 2004 Texas
12 Justin Jackson 5440 2014 2017 Northwestern
Jonathan Taylor 5430 2017 Iowa Wisconsin
13 LaDainian Tomlinson 5387 1997 2000 Texas Christian

For reference, there are eight players that played in 2019 on the top 250 rushing totals, including Taylor. The next two closest, J.K. Dobbins and AJ Dillon had around 4500 yards. They are also pursing the NFL after three years. Only Travis Etienne and his 4038 career yards has a shot of catching him in 2020.

In other words, Jonathan Taylor was really good at football.