The first round of the NFL Draft came and went on Thursday evening with zero Wisconsin Badgers selected. While there was certainly something to talk about for Wisconsin football fans due to the Green Bay Packers interesting choices, the rest of us, foolishly, stayed up too late in hopes of seeing a Badger drafted.
On Friday night, however, the first Wisconsin players were taken. Running back Jonathan Taylor was selected by the Indianapolis Colts with the No. 41 pick in the second round. Indy traded up with the Browns to get their man, one of the most productive running backs in NCAA history.
The Colts depth chart in the backfield is not full of world beaters and Taylor should compete for carries right away. Marlon Mack is the presumed starter and he rushed for just over 1,000 yards last year while Nyheim Hines was his primary backup last year but only averaged 3.8 yards per carry on 52 totes.
Taylor is one of the most decorated running backs, not only in Wisconsin Badgers history, but in the history of college football. In 2019 alone he was the Doak Walker Award winner, Walter Camp Player of the Year finalist, Maxwell Award semifinalist, Lombardi Award semifinalist, unanimous first-team All-America (AFCA, AP, FWAA, Sporting News, Walter Camp), Ameche-Dayne Big Ten Running Back of the Year, first-team All-Big Ten (consensus) and four-time Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week.
In 2018 he was the Doak Walker Award winner, Maxwell Award semifinalist, Walter Camp Player of the Year semifinalist, unanimous first-team All-America (AFCA, AP, FWAA, Sporting News, Walter Camp), Ameche-Dayne Big Ten Running Back of the Year, first-team All-Big Ten (consensus), New Era Pinstripe Bowl MVP, two-time Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week and Academic All-Big Ten.
Sadly, in 2017 he did not win the Doak Walker Award and was merely a finalist. He was also a Maxwell Award semifinalist, Walter Camp Player of the Year Award semifinalist, second-team All-America (AP, FWAA, Sporting News, Walter Camp), Freshman All-America (FWAA, ESPN, USA Today), first-team All-Big Ten (consensus), Thompson-Randle El Big Ten Freshman of the Year, tw-time Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week, eight-time Big Ten Freshman of the Week.
He was the seventh player in FBS history to rush for 6,000 yards and the first to ever do so in just three seasons and he finished his career ranked No. 6 all-time among FBS players in rushing (6,174 yards) and No. 2 all-time among Big Ten players. He was also the first player in Wisconsin history to finish in top-10 of Heisman Trophy voting three times, finishing sixth as a freshman, ninth as a sophomore and fifth as a junior.
I am just copying and pasting these stats from his official UW bio because they are so insane that I can’t come up with the proper words to describe them. He was the only player in FBS history to rush for at least 1,900 yards in three consecutive seasons. His 6,174 yards are the most by an FBS player in any three-year span and his combined 4,197 yards as a sophomore and junior is highest two-year total in FBS history, while his combined 4,171 yards as freshman and sophomore ranks as fourth-best two-year total ever. He set FBS records for rushing yards by a freshman (1,977) and by a sophomore (2,194) too.
Taylor finished his career in 2019 by rushing for 2,003 yards (second consecutive 2,000 yard season btw) on 320 carries (6.3 ypc) and scoring a nation-leading 26 touchdowns (21 on the ground). The Salem, N.J. native caught 26 passes for 252 yards (9.7 ypc) and those other five touchdowns.