CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Wisconsin running back Jonathan Taylor on Saturday became only the fourth player in FBS history to reach 5,000 rushing yards before the end of his junior season — and the fastest to reach the milestone.
Taylor eclipsed the 5,000-yard mark on a 16-yard carry on the first place from scrimmage Saturday at Illinois, joining former Georgia running back Herschel Walker, former Wisconsin running back Ron Dayne and former Oregon running back LaMichael James. Taylor won the 2018 Doak Walker Award as the nation’s top running back and entered Saturday with 27 career 100-yard rushing games and nine career 200-yard rushing games.
James had been the fastest to 5,000 rushing yards, needing 755 carries. Taylor did so in only 736 carries.
“I’ve seen highlights of those guys,” Taylor told ESPN this week. “Just watching those guys, you could tell they were some of the most dominant to ever play college football. Those are the best to ever do it, and it’s an honor to be mentioned among those men.”
Taylor already owns the FBS record for most rushing yards through the first two seasons in college, as he racked up 4,171 yards by the end of his sophomore season, 430 more than Walker. He entered Saturday’s game needing 145 yards to pass Montee Ball for second place on Wisconsin’s career rushing list, behind only Dayne, the 1999 Heisman Trophy winner (7,125 yards).