Just over a month ago, the NFL Draft was held, and like past iterations, there are picks that no one sees coming. This year, one of the most surprising picks was when the Indianapolis Colts selected Jonathan Taylor in the second round with the 41st overall pick. It’s easy to say with a top O-Line and a 1,000-yard rusher all back from 2019, running back was not what most Colts fans saw as one of their early selections. While many Wisconsin fans were probably very excited to see their star running back drafted, Purdue fans were just as excited for totally different reasons.
Every fan loves to look at their team’s schedule and evaluate who their team is playing against. A lot of times fans also catch themselves saying something like, “we have to play against this guy again?!”, referring to a player who has repeatedly destroyed their team every time they play against them. A guy who is almost unstoppable against your team, who seems more like a video game character than a real-life person. The 5’10” 226 pound Jonathan Taylor was that guy for Purdue fans after three years of torturing the Boilermakers.
Another weapon on the ground.
— Indianapolis Colts (@Colts) April 24, 2020
Wisconsin has been known for having great running backs for a long time including stars like Ron Dayne, Montee Ball, and Melvin Gordon among others. As a freshman, Taylor wasted no time establishing himself as the next great Badger. He won the starting job outright, and in his first five games totaled 767 rushing yards and nine touchdowns. A start that anybody would like to have to start a career. Next up though? A game against the “Big Bad Burley Boilermakers”.
Purdue was entering the game a new team than what Wisconsin had seen the previous four seasons, the biggest reason being that the Boilermakers had never won more than three games in a season. With Coach Jeff Brohm in his first year at the helm, Purdue had already won three out of their first five games and had one of the top defenses in the Big Ten, in large part because of future New England Patriot Linebacker Ja’Whaun Bentley. The Boilermakers may have been different from previous years, but Taylor was out to make sure the Badgers extended their decade-long win streak against Purdue. In a grind-it-out game that was more than made for a running back like Taylor, Wisconsin won 17-9 in Madison, and Taylor introduced himself with a 219-yard performance (the most yards allowed by Purdue the whole year). Taylor would finish the season leading the Big Ten in rushing yards and winning the Big Ten Freshman of the Year award.
Taylor: 1 Purdue: 0
If anyone thought that Taylor would have a sophomore slump, they were wrong. Despite Wisconsin Coming to West Lafayette with only a 6-4 record (a down year for the Badgers), Taylor did not miss a beat. Entering the game with over 1,500 yards of total offense and 12 touchdowns and in matchup two against Purdue, Taylor seemed determined to have an even bigger game than in the first matchup. Purdue controlled the game for most of the day, stoking a 27-13 lead going into the 4th quarter in large part because of their own star, Rondale Moore, leading the way.
Thanks in large part to Taylor, though, Wisconsin came all the way back to force overtime. From there, Taylor scored two touchdowns and helped complete a comeback while dashing the Boilermakers hopes of ending their 13-game losing streak to the Badgers. It might honestly have been the best game Taylor has ever played in college (he finished with a career-high 321 rushing yards and three touchdowns). Taylor finished the season by leading the entire nation with 2,194 rushing yards!
Taylor: 2 Purdue: 0
As a junior, Taylor set out to impress NFL scouts in his first year of being draft eligible. Taylor became a captain and continued carrying the Badgers, helping them get started on a Big Ten West championship run. The Boilermakers, on the other hand, were going in a different direction. Brohm’s third year as the head coach was filled with injuries as all Purdue could do was try to hang on and make a bowl game. Unfortunately, that meant needing to pull off some upsets down the stretch, including winning in Madison. Taylor was not going to let that happen.
Sure enough, the third time was not the charm. While Purdue kept it competitive early in the game, Wisconsin ended up running away with the game… literally. For the third straight year, Taylor ran for more than 200 yards while also adding a touchdown and the Badgers won for the 14th straight time against Purdue.
Thankfully this would be the last of Taylor’s reign of terror on the Boilermakers, as he entered the draft at the end of the season. While Taylor definitely left a mark on Purdue, he did so to a lot of other teams along the way. He ended his final season leading the nation in touchdowns and winning the Doak Walker Award (top running back). Furthermore, he finished his career as the second all-time rushing leader in Wisconsin history and totaled 6,174 rushing yards, which ranks sixth-most in NCAA history! It’s almost certain that had Taylor came back, he’d be the all-time leader in rushing yards!
Taylor: 3 Purdue: 0
A New Place To Run
When Taylor was selected in the draft, Purdue fans were probably also shocked when ESPN analysts talked about his interest in meditation and yoga. Considering Boilermaker fans viewed Taylor more as a monster than a human, seeing him come off as so peaceful was definitely a different side of Taylor that wasn’t seen on the gridiron. Taylor’s new home happens to be in the same state as the team he destroyed in college. Indianapolis is only a little more than an hour away from West Lafayette, so interestingly enough, there are a lot of Purdue fans who also happen to be Indianapolis Colts fans. To say the least, those fans couldn’t be happier that the guy who had given their college team so much misery is now a member of their team.
A Colts scout referred to Taylor as Captain America, and with his blend of speed and strength, it’s easy to see why. Taylor will form a dynamic duo with Marlon Mack running behind arguably the best offensive line in football. Purdue fans will be able to truly enjoy watching him dominate on the gridiron as well.
Video Credit To the Big Ten Network:
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