Jonathan Taylor via Twitter
Class of 2017 RB Jonathan Taylor (middle) should bring plenty of speed to the Badgers' backfield.

2017 RB Jonathan Taylor will bring the speed, remembering Dave Schreiner on Memorial Day and more

We hope you’ll start your day with us here at the as we work to prepare you for everything that you need to know — Monday through Friday — around the world of Wisconsin sports. Whether it’s football, basketball, hockey or just a wild story we hope you’ll find interesting, we’re here to share it all with you.

Today is Monday, May 29, and this is what’s for breakfast.

Bringing the speed

Wisconsin running backs have a reputation as big, slow plodders that would rather run through you than around you. That’s what happens when the school’s all-time leader rusher, Ron Dayne, played much of his career weighing north of 260 pounds.

Even those considered to be better athletes than their predecessors were still not thought of as speed burners. The biggest knock on Melvin Gordon coming out of college was he couldn’t run away from guys, never mind he led the country in runs of 50 yards or more in 2014. James White ran a 4.5-second 40-yard dash at the 2014 NFL Combine, but people always referred to him as being more quick than fast.

Well, there is a member of the 2017 recruiting class that might go a long way to helping change that narrative. Jonathan Taylor from Salem (N.J.) High ran a 10.49 100-meter dash at a state sectional on Friday — the top time in New Jersey this year.

For reference, Gordon’s best time as a prep at Kenosha (Wis.) Bradford was 10.95 seconds, according to records from Taylor’s time is almost a half-second faster than the 2014 Heisman Trophy runner-up, and he did it while weighing nearly 215 pounds.

It’s a startling combination of size and speed for the 247Sports 3-star running back, who originally committed to Rutgers. A first-team all-state pick by, Taylor has the production to go with his physical attributes, breaking the South Jersey single-season rushing record previously held by Corey Clement, who just finished his career with the Badgers.

Taylor won’t be the first running back to bring some speed to the backfield in Madison. Michael Bennett, who holds the Wisconsin state high school record in the 100-meter dash at 10.33 seconds, was as fast as any back in the country when he ran for 1,681 yards in 2000. But for most, especially outside of the state, the Badgers’ backs have always been viewed with Dayne’s physique in mind. Taylor, and his elite speed, might have a chance to flip the script.

Remembering Dave Schreiner

Six former Wisconsin football players have their numbers retired by the Badgers. There are a variety of reasons behind the honors, from Dayne and Alan Ameche being the school’s two Heisman Trophy winners to Allan Shafer’s No. 83 in memory of the fatal injury he suffered during a game in 1944. But only one — Dave Schreiner — played a pivotal role on the football field and the battlefields of World War II.

A two-time All-American end and the 1942 Western Conference Player of the Year, Schreiner was killed at the Battle of Okinawa in 1945.

From the Monroe Evening Times, a description of Schreiner’s final efforts on the island:

The former Wisconsin end commanded “A” company of the sixth marine division. Late in the afternoon of June 20, just 12 hours before organized resistance ended, Schreiner led his men forward to fill a gap in the line near Kiyuma Gusuku castle, the lone remaining [Japanese] stronghold.

At a point near the castle, Schreiner moved out ahead of his unit to inspect the terrain. A [Japanese] sniper, hidden in a cave, fatally wounded the Wisconsin officer with grenades and small-arms fire.

That account of his death has been disputed, including in the book, Third Down and A War to Go, which told the story of the 1942 Wisconsin football team that went 8-1-1 before a majority of its players headed off to battle. But how it happened really isn’t the point. It’s remembering that sacrifice, along with that of so many others, as we celebrate Memorial Day.

So often we use war-like terminology to describe what’s happening on a football field and don’t give it a second thought. The word hero is used so often it’s lost its true meaning. It’s a word that should be used for people such as Schreiner and everyone else who has put themselves in harm’s way so that we can enjoy the freedoms that allow us to play and watch the sports we love. Those are the heroes and ones we should remember not just on Memorial Day but every day.

Once a Badger …

Nigel Hayes has been working out in California as he preps for the NBA draft, while Jordan Hill returned home to the West Coast before he heads to Seattle University where he’ll play his final year of college basketball. It’s safe to say both have other things on their minds than the future of the Wisconsin basketball program. Yet, each of the former Badgers still made time to go see Class of 2018 commitment and Milwaukee native Tyler Herro when his AAU team played in Los Angeles last weekend.

There are plenty of examples of former players all over the country supporting their schools, especially during high-profile events such as the NCAA Tournament. But how many, in what has to be one of the more nerve-racking stretches of their lives, make the effort to seek out someone five years their junior and with whom they have never played and probably never will? It’s likely not a very big number and , from this vantage point at least, this is further proof the bond that Wisconsin builds between former, current and future players is unique.

Catching up

  • Former Badgers forward Sam Dekker got engaged during the weekend, and fans of ESPN and/or the Green Bay Packers might recognize the name of his fiancee.
  • Wisconsin was one of four Big Ten teams to make the cut as 2018 DE Jayson Oweh narrowed his list to 10 schools.
  • What is the most intriguing game on Wisconsin’s 2017 football schedule? Sean Keeler has the answer.