Jonathan Taylor may be focused on the start of his NFL career, but he continues to rack up honors for what he did in the college ranks.
After a stellar career in the University of Wisconsin backfield, Taylor was named to the Big Ten Networks’s All-Decade Team on Monday, the first day of a week-long reveal of the roster. Taylor and Penn State alum and current New York Giants tailback Saquon Barkley were the two running backs named to the first team. UW's Melvin Gordon was a second-team selection.
"It's an honor, especially when you consider not just Wisconsin running backs, but other backs who played in the NCAA who were extreme, generational talents," Taylor told BTN. "It's a brotherhood, we're showing that running back fraternity at the University of Wisconsin. I'm pretty sure a lot of the backs would say this ... as long as one of us in on there, we're represented well."
Taylor won the Doak Walker Award as the nation’s top running back in his sophomore and junior seasons at UW, joining Texas’ Ricky Williams and Arkansas’ Darren McFadden as the only two-time winners. He amassed 6,174 career rushing yards, good for sixth all-time in the Football Bowl Subdivision and second-most in Big Ten history behind only Badgers legend Ron Dayne.
Taylor is the only college player to post 6,000 or more rushing yards in three seasons. He led the nation in total touchdowns with 26 as a junior, including 21 rushing.
“It’s crazy to think about,” Taylor said in December when reflecting on his college career. “You go through the years, you think about the guys that you’ve been around that helped you along the way. You think about how you got so lucky to be around a bunch of guys to help you.”
Had he stayed at UW for his senior year, Taylor was on pace to exceed Dayne's Big Ten rushing yards record (6,397) and Donnel Pumphrey's NCAA record (6,405). Assuming he was healthy, Taylor had a good chance of surpassing Dayne's bowl-included total of 7,125 yards. He told BTN's Rick Pizzo that Dayne was a role model for him at UW.
"That's someone you look up to, someone who's set the ground work or the foundation for these young running backs to chase or obtain their goals. I think the biggest thing, going through that process of thinking about that before leaving school, weighing the pros and cons of going and trying to play another season there ... that all came into effect," Taylor said. "The opportunity to chase that bar or the goals that your mentor and predecessor set (was there)."
The Indianapolis Colts traded up in the second round of the NFL Draft to take Taylor with the ninth pick of the round and 41st overall in the draft. Taylor was the first UW running back to be drafted since Melvin Gordon in 2015.
The BTN All-Decade team was voted on by a panel of 24 writers and analysts. The team’s linebackers will be announced later on Monday. The team’s offensive line (Tuesday); tight ends and defensive backs (Wednesday); wide receivers and defensive line (Thursday); quarterback, specialists, all-purpose player and coach (Friday) will be announced later this week.