Jonathan Taylor needs to be invited to the Heisman Trophy ceremony, and it'll be a joke if he isn't
Three months ago after he opened the season by absolutely torching USF, I banged the drum for Jonathan Taylor’s Heisman Trophy candidacy.
Loudly. Like, called out people for thinking he’s “just another Wisconsin back” and wrote why I believed he’d deserve Heisman consideration for the duration of 2019.
Well, the time has come again for me to bang the drum for Taylor’s Heisman candidacy.
Let me back up. I’m not saying he deserves to win the award. Don’t get it twisted.
That’s going to Joe Burrow barring some unforeseen event. Justin Fields will likely be in New York, and Chase Young will probably be there, too. Shoot, maybe even J.K. Dobbins will join the fun.
But if the Heisman invitee list doesn’t include Taylor, that’s an absolute joke.
In the same way that it was a joke that Saquon Barkley wasn’t invited in 2017, it would probably be an even more egregious deal if Taylor get a Heisman experience in his career.
That’s what needs to be remembered. It doesn’t matter that Taylor isn’t gonna win. Who cares if he doesn’t get anywhere near the votes of Burrow or Fields? It won’t be “an embarrassment.” It’s about the whole Heisman experience, one in which those kids will never forget.
I say that because the invite list is determined after the votes are tallied. It’s done with the intention of honoring the truly elite and making that invite a special honor. There are inconsistencies in it, though. Jabrill Peppers got the invite with 208 total points when they invited 5 candidates in 2016 (fifth in voting), but Barkley didn’t get it in with 304 points when they invited just 3 candidates in 2017 (and he finished fourth).
I still can’t get over the fact that Barkley never got a Heisman invite. I don’t know if I ever will.
I’ll be even more outraged if Taylor ends his Wisconsin career — all signs point to him leaving for the NFL Draft after this season — without a Heisman invite.
I’m of the belief that Taylor should earn this as a career achievement deal. I mean, we’re talking about someone who has the most rushing yards through 3 seasons in college football history. He has an entire season’s worth of 200-yard rushing games (12), which is also an FBS record. That’s stupid.
Oh, and I suppose this is pretty good, too:
With 5,932 career rushing yards, Jonathan Taylor needs 68 to become the 7th player in FBS history to rush for 6,000 yards — and the first to do so in just 3 seasons.
— Wisconsin Football (@BadgerFootball) December 5, 2019
Now imagine telling yourself that dude doesn’t deserve 1 trip to New York? Come on.
But if you do want to just focus on 2019, Taylor’s production should win you over for that, as well. Besides the fact that he’s clearly the best player on a top-10 team that’s playing in a conference championship this weekend, consider this. He’s 39 yards away from hitting 2,000 yards from scrimmage this year. Oklahoma State’s Chuba Hubbard is the only non-quarterback in Power 5 who already hit that number, and he’s also the only player who ranks ahead of Taylor in rushing yards.
Speaking of Hubbard, who has been fantastic this year, let’s do a little side-by-side comparison to he and Taylor in 2019:
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To me, that last category matters. A lot. I didn’t think Kyler Murray deserved to win the Heisman last year because of the lack of quality defenses he faced, and if it comes down to Taylor vs. Hubbard for a Heisman invite, I think that absolutely needs to be taken into account.
Taylor has faced better competition. Period. And oh, he’s about to face the No. 4 defense in America this weekend.
Speaking of that, I know what some of you might be thinking. Shouldn’t J.K. Dobbins be getting the invite instead of Taylor? After all, Dobbins out-rushed Taylor 163-52 in the head-to-head matchup the first time. The odds are that Dobbins will win the head-to-head matchup again on Saturday in the B1G Championship.
That’s not nothing. If you look at the entire season, it’s extremely close between the two of them:
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That top-50 defense stat is insane. To think that Dobbins is having this kind of a year against what’ll be 9 top-50 defenses (after Saturday) is an unbelievable testament to how good he’s been.
If you’re asking me, yes, I’d invite both of them. If you’re asking me to pick one over the other, I’d give Taylor the edge just because of how dominant he’s been for 3 years.
My invite list for New York would be:
- Joe Burrow, LSU
- Chase Young, Ohio State
- Justin Fields, Ohio State
- Jonathan Taylor, Wisconsin
- J.K. Dobbins, Ohio State
I wouldn’t get caught up in how close Taylor and Dobbins are to Burrow in the final voting. I also wouldn’t get caught up in whether Taylor’s Badgers win or lose on Saturday.
And if you’re still of the belief that just because Wisconsin has a great history of rushing attacks with that oversized offensive line that anyone could do what Taylor is doing, well, I don’t have the time of day for you. If you, however, have the time, I encourage you to watch Taylor actually play a game and get past any preconceived notions you might have about him as a player. That ship should’ve sailed a loooooong time ago.
Sadly, common sense doesn’t always prevail in college football. If it did, we would’ve seen Barkley in New York in 2017. Why less than 5 players are ever invited makes zero sense. There’s a complete lack of suspense if there’s an overwhelming winner anyways — which there usually is — so it shouldn’t make a difference if a couple of obvious non-winners get the invite.
To whoever has to make that decision about the invite list, I advise you to do one thing.
Be smart, and reward one of the best running backs that college football has ever seen.