As a high school junior, Jonathan Taylor of Salem, New Jersey ran for 1,095 yards and 8 touchdowns. He was about 5-11, 210 and doubled as a linebacker. Taylor ran for over 200 yards in two different games, but only got to play in 7 games total. In the spring, Taylor won the New Jersey state 100 meters championship.
As a senior, Taylor just exploded. Against Woodbury, Taylor ran for 385 yards and 5 touchdowns. He also ran for 344 yards and 4 touchdowns against Burlington City. On the season, Jonathan Taylor ran for 2,824 yards and 35 touchdowns.
He then won the state title in the 100 meters again and ran a 10.64. That’s not world class, but it’s good for a 210 pound running back. I’ve seen on the internet times of 10.49, or close to that, but that’s not confirmable.
In spite of the success on the field and on the track, Taylor was only given a 3 star instead of 4 star.
Wisconsin signed five 4 star recruits in their 2017 class, but none of them were Jonathan Taylor. He was rated as the 41st best running back in the country by ESPN when he signed with the Badgers.
I’ve followed the recruiting game for as long as just about anyone. Sometimes, we all just miss some. Jonathan Taylor was a clear miss, but some of that was the recruiting service’s bias towards the southeastern area of our great country.
Taylor didn’t waste a lot of time when he got to Madison, Wisconsin. In his first game, Taylor ran for 87 yards on just 9 carries and showed flashes of the brilliance that he would later display.
In game two, against Lane Kiffin’s Florida Atlantic, Taylor had one of his biggest games scoring 3 touchdowns while rushing for 223 yards.
It was only Florida Atlantic, but heads were starting to turn, already.
After going for over 100 yards against BYU, the Northwestern Wildcats kind of held him in check only allowing him 80 yards rushing. But, he still ran for 2 touchdowns and averaged over 4 yards per carry.
Nebraska was a lightweight with Mike Riley coaching, but Taylor’s 249 yards rushing was still amazing. That would be his best game of the season, rushing wise. He also added a couple more touchdowns and averaged nearly 10 yards per carry.
Against Purdue, he ran for 219 yards and another score. Maryland slowed him down somewhat and he only ran for 126 yards and a score. Taylor only had 12 carries against Illinois and only ran for 73 yards and the Badgers had a surprisingly rough game against a weak opponent. Weak, or not, the Badgers were still unbeaten.
Jonathan Taylor got on another 100 yard game streak pulling off 4 in a row and the Wisconsin Badgers moved to 12-0 on the season and were the champs of the Big 10 West.
Their one and only loss came against Ohio State in the championship game when the Buckeyes beat the Badgers 27-21. Taylor was held to only 41 yards in his lowest output of the season.
In the Orange Bowl against the Miami Hurricanes, Taylor ran for another 130 yards to break the freshman rushing record held by Adrian Peterson of Oklahoma.
Taylor finished his season with 1977 yards rushing and 13 touchdowns. He averaged over 6.6 yards per carry.
Was Jonathan Taylor a one hit wonder, or will he come back this season and top the 2,000 yard barrier. There’s no doubt that he only stays in college three seasons, so there’s little chance he will break the all time career rushing record.
But, the 5-11, 215 speedster should do nothing but get better with the off season workouts, better diet and maturation. He should be stronger and possibly even faster as the 2018 season approaches.
The Wisconsin Badgers are a school that’s going to run the football and there’s no reason why Taylor can’t smash a lot of records.