Jonathan Taylor, Malik Hooker Earn All-Decade Honors From Big Ten Network

Indianapolis Colts running back Jonathan Taylor and safety Malik Hooker have been named two of the best players from the Big Ten Conference over the last 10 years, as Big Ten Network has named both to the Big Ten All-Decade Team.

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INDIANAPOLIS — When teams are scouting talent leading up to the NFL Draft, it's not hard to fall in love with players who dominated at the highest level of competition.

The Indianapolis Colts are one of those teams. They pride themselves on toughness, so it's no surprise that they have two of the best players from the last decade from one of the toughest conferences in college football: the Big Ten.

This week, Big Ten Network has been releasing its selections for the Big Ten’s All-Decade Team, and Colts running back and Jonathan Taylor and safety Malik Hooker made the cut.

Taylor — a second-round pick by the Colts from the Wisconsin Badgers this April — could also make an argument for the best running back in all of college football over the last decade. And, while Hooker only started one season for the Ohio State Buckeyes, it was clearly such a good season that it landed him on this All-Star roster.

S Malik Hooker | Ohio State Buckeyes | 2014-16

Hooker's career in Columbus began with a redshirt in 2014, in a season in which the Buckeyes would later claim the National Championship.

The following season, Hooker began to see some playing time, primarily on special teams. He played in all 13 games that redshirt freshman season in 2015. He saw only 25 snaps on defense, but 154 others on special teams. Hooker totaled 10 tackles that year before blowing up in a big way in 2016.

Much like he did when he became a starter for the Colts, Hooker caught fire quickly as a starter with the Buckeyes, picking off a pair of passes in his first start.

In his final season at Ohio State, Hooker finished third in country with seven interceptions and led the FBS with three of them returned for touchdowns. The latter are also Ohio State single-season and career records.

Hooker was named an unanimous First-Team All-American and First Team All-Big Ten selection, as well as a Thorpe Award semifinalist for the nation's top defensive back.

In 26 career games (13 starts), Hooker compiled 84 tackles (5.5 for loss), 0.5 sacks, seven interceptions, four pass breakups and three defensive touchdowns.

The following spring, he then fell into the Colts' lap with the 15th-overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, although he was widely considered a top-10 lock.

RB Jonathan Taylor | Wisconsin Badgers | 2017-19

As mentioned, Taylor could easily make a case for being college football's top running back of the last decade; not just within the Big Ten Conference.

He became a starter as a true freshman in 2017 and set the FBS record for rushing yards by a freshman (1,977 yards), and then again by a sophomore (2,194). He would earn Big Ten Freshman of the Week eight times that season and was named a Freshman All-American and the Thompson-Randle El Big Ten Freshman of the Year.

Taylor appeared in 41 games (40 starts) in his career and carried the ball 926 times for 6,174 yards (6.7 avg.) and 50 touchdowns to go along with 42 receptions for 407 yards (9.7 avg.) and five touchdowns.

His list of career accomplishments with the Badgers is seemingly endless.

According to Wisconsin Athletics, Taylor is the seventh player in FBS history to rush for 6,000 yards and the first to ever do it in just three seasons. His 6,174 yards are the most by any FBS player in a three-year stretch. He's also got two of the best two-year stretches ever, as his 4,197 yards between his sophomore and junior seasons is the highest two-year total in FBS history and his 4,171 yards between his freshman and sophomore seasons ranks as fourth-best.

Taylor became just the third player in FBS history with multiple 2,000-yard rushing seasons, and is the only player to rush for at least 1,900 yards in three consecutive seasons.

He reached 100 yards rushing in 32 games, which is the third-most in FBS history, and he had at least 200 yards in 12 games which is tied for the second-most.

If Taylor would have returned for his senior season, he almost certainly would have smashed the FBS' all-time rushing record, needing just 952 yards; his average per season was 2,058.

Instead, Taylor left Wisconsin sixth all-time in the FBS in rushing and No. 2 all-time among Big Ten players after fellow Badger Ron Dayne (7,125). Taylor's career yards-per-carry average of 6.67 yards is also only second to Dayne in school history.

All of those on-field accomplishments led to a slew of honors that came Taylor's way.

He was named the New Era Pinstripe Bowl MVP in 2018, was an eight-time Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week, and was once named Academic All-Big Ten.

Taylor was a Lombardi Award semifinalist, a two-time Walter Camp Player of the Year Award semifinalist, a three-time Maxwell Award semifinalist, a one-time Walter Camp Player of the Year and Doak Walker Award finalist.

He twice won the Doak Walker Award and the Ameche-Dayne Big Ten Running Back of the Year. Taylor was named First-Team All-Big Ten three times, once named Second-Team All-American, and was twice named an unanimous First-Team All-American.

Taylor is also the first player in Wisconsin school history to finish in the top 10 of Heisman Trophy voting at least three times, as he finished sixth as a freshman, ninth as a sophomore and fifth as a junior.

All of this was too good for the Colts to pass up in this year's draft; they traded up three spots from No. 44 to No. 41 overall to take Taylor in the second round.

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