Badgers tied for all-time lead in top RB award


The Doak Walker Award, established in 1990, is awarded to the nation’s top collegiate running back every season. Named after Walker, a former RB at Southern Methodist (1945-1949), it’s the highest honor a ball carrier can earn for their position.

Wisconsin has produced some of the best running backs in the country in the last couple decades and has gained some steam as the “running back university”. In the end though, the Badgers have never been able to get over the hump and make a national championship, regardless of their backfield talent. Looking to the future, new head coach Luke Fickell and offensive coordinator Phil Longo have reassured fans that the running mentality will not be erased moving forward, but only time will tell.

Overall, the Badgers have had five winners of the Doak Walker Award, tying them with the Texas Longhorns for most ever. Here’s a look into the impressive athletes to don the Badger red and white:

1999: Ron Dayne

Sep 25, 1999; Madison, WI, USA; FILE PHOTO; Wisconsin Badgers running back Ron Dayne (33) in action against Michigan at Camp Randall Stadium. Michigan defeated Wisconsin 21-16. Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

In 1999, Ron Dayne capped off his storied career with the Wisconsin Badgers, running his way to a Heisman trophy victory while crossing the 2000 yard mark and scoring 20 touchdowns.


Rushing Yards: 2034

Rushing TDs: 20


Rushing Yards: 7125

Rushing TDs: 71

2012: Montee Ball

October 13, 2012; West Lafayette, IN, USA; Wisconsin Badgers running back Montee 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 themselves a second Doak Walker Award in 2012 with Montee Ball’s terrific campaign. The running back produced over 1800 yards on the ground while reaching the end zone 22 times while helping the Badgers reach the Rose Bowl game for a second straight year. His award win is notable considering he probably should have won it the year prior when he went over 1900 yards with 33 touchdowns (four short of Barry Sanders’ record), finishing fourth in the Heisman vote. Alabama’s Trent Richardson won it instead with far less appealing stats.


Rushing Yards: 1830

Rushing TDs: 22


Rushing Yards: 5140

Rushing TDs: 77

2014: Melvin Gordon

Oct 4, 2014; Evanston, IL, USA; Wisconsin Badgers running back Melvin Gordon (25) runs past Northwestern Wildcats safety Traveon Henry (10) during the second half at Ryan Field. Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

Melvin Gordon exploded in his final season with the Badgers, falling just 41 yards short of breaking Barry Sanders’ single-season rushing record of 2628 rushing yards while also scoring 29 times on the ground. The incredible junior campaign landed Gordon second in Heisman voting behind Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota.


Rushing Yards: 2587

Rushing TDs: 29


Rushing Yards: 4915

Rushing TDs: 45

2018: Jonathan Taylor

Jonathan Taylor of Wisconsin gets past Markus Bailey of Purdue on a second half carry Saturday, November 17, 2018, at Ross-Ade Stadium. Purdue fell to Wisconsin 47-44 3OT.
Laf Wisconsin At Purdue

Jonathan Taylor had one of the most consistent careers in NCAA history, finishing at nearly 2000 yards all three seasons he was with the Badgers. In 2018, he received the top honor for running backs by producing almost 2200 yards while reaching the end zone 16 times. Although he was not quite as high as some of his predecessors, Taylor finished 9th in Heisman voting in 2018.


Rushing Yards: 2194

Rushing TDs: 16

2019: Jonathan Taylor

Oct 5, 2019; Madison, WI, USA; Wisconsin Badgers running back Jonathan Taylor (23) rushes with the football during the second quarter against the Kent State Golden Flashes at Camp Randall Stadium. 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 Texas’ Ricky Williams (1997-1998) and Arkansas’ Darren McFadden (2006-2007). In his final year with the Badgers, Taylor went over 2000 yards for the second straight year and set a new career-high 21 touchdowns. On top of that, he expanded his role as a receiver, reeling in 26 catches for 252 yards and five scores. Due to his success in the backfield, Wisconsin was able to make another Rose Bowl, falling to the Oregon Ducks.


Rushing Yards: 2003

Rushing TDs: 21


Rushing Yards: 6174

Rushing TDs: 50

Braelon Allen 2023?

PHOENIX, ARIZONA – DECEMBER 27: Safety Jason Taylor II #25 of the Oklahoma State Cowboys tackles running back Braelon Allen #0 of the Wisconsin Badgers during the first half of the Guaranteed Rate Bowl at Chase Field on December 27, 2022 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Chris Coduto/Getty Images)

Braelon Allen has had a rather impressive start to his career with the Badgers, bursting onto the scene with 2510 rushing yards and 23 touchdowns over two seasons with Wisconsin.

Could the 6-foot-2, 238 pound athlete be the team’s next Doak Walker Award winner in 2023? We’ll have to wait and see!

Story originally appeared on Badgers Wire



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