Badgers tied for all-time lead in top RB award
The Doak Walker Award, established in 1990, is presented each season to the nation’s top collegiate player. Named for Walker, a former RB in Southern Methodist (1945-1949), this is the highest honor a ball handler can earn for his position.
Wisconsin has produced some of the best runners in the country in the past couple of decades and has gained momentum as a “running university”. In the end, the Badgers were never able to overcome the hump and win a national championship, regardless of their talent on the home front. Looking to the future, new head coach Luke Fickell and offensive coordinator Phil Longo assured fans that the running mentality will not go away in the future, only time will tell.
Overall, the Badgers have had five Doak Walker Award winners, which most ties them to the Texas Longhorns. Here’s a look at the impressive athletes donning the red and white badger:
1999: Ron Dane
September 25, 1999; Madison, Wisconsin, USA; FILE PHOTO; Wisconsin Badgers running back Ron Dane (33) against Michigan at Camp Randall. Michigan defeated Wisconsin 21-16. Compulsory Credit: USA TODAY Sports
In 1999, Ron Dane ended his storied career with the Wisconsin Badgers as he fought his way to victory in the Heisman Trophy with 2,000 yards and 20 touchdowns.
Rushing yards: 2,034
Rushing PTs: 20
Rushing yards: 7125
Racing TD: 71
2012: Monty Ball
October 13, 2012; West Lafayette, Indiana, USA; Wisconsin Badgers running back Monty Ball (28) breaks through the Purdue Boilermakers line at Ross Ade Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Sandra Dukes-USA TODAY Sports
After 13 years, the Badgers earned their second Doak Walker Award in 2012 for their amazing Monty Ball campaign. Running back ran over 1,800 yards on the ground, reaching the end zone 22 times, helping the Badgers to the Rose Bowl for the second year in a row. His award is notable considering he probably should have won it a year earlier when he passed over 1,900 yards with 33 touchdowns (four short of Barry Sanders’ record), finishing fourth in Heisman’s voting. Instead, it was won by Trent Richardson of Alabama, with a much less attractive statistic.
Hastening yards: 1830
Racing TD: 22
Rushing yards: 5140
Racing TD: 77
2014: Melvin Gordon
October 4, 2014; Evanston, Illinois, USA; Wisconsin Badgers running back Melvin Gordon (25) runs past Northwestern Wildcats safety Traveon Henry (10) in the second half at Ryan Field. Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports
Melvin Gordon exploded in his final season with the Badgers, only 41 yards behind Barry Sanders’ single-season rushing record of 2,628, while also scoring 29 times on the ground. An incredible youth campaign earned Gordon second place in the Heisman ballot behind Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota.
Rushing Yards: 2587
Racing TD: 29
Rushing Yards: 4915
Rushing PTs: 45
2018: Jonathan Taylor
Wisconsin’s Jonathan Taylor beat Purdue’s Marcus Bailey in the second half on Saturday, November 17, 2018 at Ross Ade Stadium. Perdue lost to Wisconsin 47-44 3OT.
Lough Wisconsin at Purdue
Jonathan Taylor had one of the most consistent careers in NCAA history, finishing nearly 2,000 yards in all three seasons he played with the Badgers. In 2018, he earned the top honors in runners by running nearly 2,200 yards and reaching the end zone 16 times. While not as high as some of his predecessors, Taylor finished 9th in Heisman’s 2018 poll.
Rushing yards: 2194
Rushing PTs: 16
2019: Jonathan Taylor
October 5, 2019; Madison, Wisconsin, USA; Wisconsin Badgers running back Jonathan Taylor, 23, rushes the ball in the second quarter against the Kent State Golden Flashes at Camp Randall. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
With another masterful season in 2019, Taylor became the third player ever to win two Doak Walker awards, joining Ricky Williams of Texas (1997–1998) and Darren McFadden of Arkansas (2006–2007). In his final year with the Badgers, Taylor passed for over 2,000 yards for the second straight year and set a new career high with 21 touchdowns. On top of that, he expanded his wide receiver role with 26 catches for 252 yards and five points. Thanks to their success in the backfield, Wisconsin was able to make another Rose Bowl, making way for the Oregon Ducks.
Rushing yards: 2,003
Racing TD: 21
Rushing yards: 6174
Rushing PTs: 50
Brelon Allen 2023?
PHOENIX, AR – DEC 27: No. 25 Jason Taylor II of the Oklahoma State Cowboys battles No. 0 running back Brelon Allen of the Wisconsin Badgers during the first half of the Guaranteed Bowl at Chase Field on December 27, 2022 year in Phoenix, Arizona. . (Photo by Chris Koduto/Getty Images)
Brelon Allen had an impressive start to his career with the Badgers, bursting onto the scene with 2,510 yards and 23 touchdowns in two seasons with Wisconsin.
Could the 6ft 2in, 238lb athlete be the next Doak Walker Award winner in 2023? We’ll have to wait and see!