Arizona Wildcats running back J.J. Taylor knows how to juke, cut on a dime, truck a tackler, and make defenders miss.
Now the nation is on notice about the Wildcat’s dynamic runner, as Taylor was named to the 2018 Doak Walker Award preseason watch list this week. The Doak Walker Award is given to the nation’s best running back. 64 candidates made the watch list.
Last season, Taylor was named the Pac-12 Co-Offensive Freshman of the Year after logging 828 rushing yards and seven total touchdowns.
With the graduation of Nick Wilson, the 5-foot-6 Taylor looks to be the prime running back in Arizona’s strong, yet unproven, stable of backs comprised of Nathan Tilford, Gary Brightwell, Anthony Mariscal, Branden Leon, and Darrius Smith.
In just a couple months, Taylor and UA quarterback Khalil Tate will have their first full season together, and the skills the two harness has fans visualizing the numbers the duo can put up on the scoreboard and stat book.
Taylor’s 2017 campaign was what most UA fans expected in to see in 2016, and for three and a half games that season, they did. In September of 2016, as UA faced Washington in its conference opener, Taylor sustained an ankle injury midway through the third quarter.
It was the last time Taylor would run for UA that year as the injury ended his season. He finished with 261 yards, two touchdowns and a 100-yard game. Fortunately for him, he was awarded a medical redshirt.
Despite having his season cut way too short, Taylor showed fans that, despite what he lacked in vertical height, he made up for with swiftness and an array of jaw-dropping moves.