Wisconsin football running back Jonathan Taylor is becoming underrated while he dominates opposing defenses.
In ESPN’s latest Heisman watch, Wisconsin football star running back Jonathan Taylor is slipping. As of October 15th, he’s only worthy of one, single, individual fifth-place vote. And nothing else.
Taylor has begun flying too far under the radar and it’s baffling. Maybe Wisconsin’s season hasn’t gone as planned, maybe he doesn’t break the big, flashy runs as some others do, but he’s still great. And he deserves recognition for it.
I totally understand that the names at the top of everybody’s Heisman Trophy watch lists are more deserving than Taylor. Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa is absolutely destroying teams and there are several other quarterbacks worthy of praise. But there’s more to a great college football season than winning the Heisman.
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If not for Memphis running back Darrell Henderson, Taylor would be running away with the rushing crown in college football this year. He has over a 200-yard lead on the next closest running back behind him.
Part of his success is the fact that he leads the country in rushing attempts. Tallying all of those yards with that volume of carries may not impress some, but his impressive 6.5 yards per carry wipes that critique away.
Taylor is a model of consistency. He’s rushed for over 100 yards in every single game this year, including 101 yards and 5.9 yards per carry against Michigan. Had the game’s momentum not slipped away from the Badgers on a roughing the snapper call, Taylor could’ve been a huge part of getting that upset for the Badgers.
Of course, that Michigan game went south for the Badgers, but Taylor was running like a man possessed just as he has all year. Coming into 2018, he was talked about as a 2,000-yard rusher, the best running back in the country, and Heisman Trophy candidate. The only thing that has changed is the Heisman Trophy part. Sort of. He’s still the best running back in the country and still on pace to break 2,000 yards. And nobody is talking about it.
There have only been 30 instances of a running back breaking the 2,000-yard mark for rushing yards in a single season. Taylor came up just 23 yards shy last year as a true freshman. If he breaks the mark this year to join that prestigious club, it feels as though it’ll go largely unnoticed. How incredible does a running back need to be to have expectations so high that even a 2,000-yard season feels like ‘just another year?’
Taylor is such a large part of Wisconsin’s success, even if it’s tempered a bit from preseason expectations. He handles the load of 20+ carries per game like a champ. He runs between the tackles on just about every play and he still attacks every run like the season depends on it. Somehow, he still seems to be getting better too.
The biggest thing to note about Taylor this year is how he has overcome the biggest hiccup in his game. Since fumbling in back-to-back weeks to start the season, he hasn’t lost the ball once. That’s the nature of the concept of fumbles though. They can occur at any moment and devastate a drive or game. And when you’re not fumbling it’s taken for granted.
Mr. Taylor, you are not taken for granted. Not one aspect of your game is. The state of Wisconsin appreciates you even if the rest of the country doesn’t understand that it’s witnessing one of the greatest running backs in recent history.