Two University of Wisconsin offensive players were named the best in the Big Ten at their position Wednesday.
Sophomore Jonathan Taylor won the Ameche-Dayne Big Ten Running Back of the Year Award and senior left guard Michael Deiter took home Rimington-Pace Offensive Lineman of the Year honors.
The conference’s offensive awards and All-Big Ten performers were announced Wednesday on BTN Live, while the All-Big Ten defensive teams and awards were released Tuesday.
Taylor’s 1,989 rushing yards are 290 more than any other player in the country and already exceed what he accumulated in 14 games last season, when he finished sixth in Heisman Trophy voting. His 15 rushing touchdowns are also two more than last year and rank seventh nationally.
“I see absolute improvement in him,” UW offensive coordinator Joe Rudolph said. “I think probably one of the things that helps me appreciate him more than anything is his steadiness of approach. … The one thing I did see come out in him is kind of a little gear sometimes where he says, ‘I’m going.’ Now he does that within the framework of what we’re trying to do.”
Ohio State quarterback Dwayne Haskins beat out Taylor for the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year Award.
Center Tyler Biadasz and right guard Beau Benzschawel joined Deiter and Taylor as consensus All-Big Ten first-team selections.
Deiter started a program-record 53 games playing at center, left guard and left tackle — a rare feat of versatility for offensive linemen. Benzschawel’s not far behind at 48 consecutive starts, as the pair became staples of UW’s offensive line as redshirt freshmen back in 2015.
“They’ve grown tremendously, and I also think they’ve helped others around them grow,” Badgers coach Paul Chryst said of Deiter and Benzschawel. “They’ve meant a ton to this team, and they’ve meant a ton to the teams they’ve been a part of before. … How cool is it when you can leave a place better for you having been there? And I think they definitely can do that and say that.”
Despite fighting through a left arm injury all season, right tackle David Edwards earned a first-team spot from the media and a second-team nod from the coaches.
The coaches and media both picked redshirt freshman tight end Jake Ferguson as an honorable mention. He ranks second on the team in catches (34), receiving yards (441) and receiving touchdowns (4).
Fullback Alec Ingold was awarded the Big Ten Sportsmanship Award.
Badgers players who earned All-Big Ten defensive recognition Tuesday included inside linebacker T.J. Edwards (first-team media, second-team coaches), safety D’Cota Dixon (third-team consensus), inside linebacker Ryan Connelly (third-team coaches, honorable mention media) and outside linebacker Andrew Van Ginkel (third-team coaches, honorable mention media).
UW kicker Rafael Gaglianone also earned an honorable mention honor from the coaches Tuesday.