The running back position was one of two that was a serious strength for Wisconsin in 2018. Jonathan Taylor led the way and was accompanied by a significant contribution from others. No matter what Wisconsin is, it will always, at least, be a dominant rushing team.
Taylor will return in 2019 as he’s only a true sophomore. He is not eligible for the draft because he is not yet three full years removed from high school. He dominated this year and currently sits 11 yards shy of 2,000 with the bowl game left to go. There were very few concerns, but concerns nonetheless about whether Taylor could replicate his 2017 production. He did. He’s legit. And with another strong season, he can make himself a lot of money.
Shaw was slow to get back to full strength this season after a serious knee injury. When he was finally cleared from injury reports, he still wasn’t seen on the field. With Taiwan Deal and Garrett Groshek playing well behind Taylor, Shaw was able to rest. In 2019 I expect to see a healthy dose of Shaw’s physical running style. I think he’s capable of being even better than Deal was this year.
Groshek emerged as a third-down running back for his pass catching and pass blocking abilities. He’s likely to be the best running back on the roster at those things again, so he’ll probably get a bunch of snaps in 2019 too.
Watson was a freshman in 2018 out of Texas who took his redshirt this year. Behind the backs available, Watson’s services weren’t needed. He’ll still be lower on the depth chart in 2019 but I suspect he could be a nice change of pace from Taylor and Shaw at his listed 231 pounds. And he’ll be in line for significant carries in 2020 when Taylor and Shaw are both no longer with the team. Wisconsin is great at grooming the ‘next’ guy at the running back position. We should see Watson quite a bit next year.