There’s a hint of familiarity in debut of Badgers RB Berger

A true freshman running back from New Jersey rushed for 87 yards with a touchdown in his collegiate debut.

Jonathan Taylor, in 2017.

Three years later, Jalen Berger did the same.

Now before you start yelling, we’re not comparing Taylor to Berger as running backs. Taylor, from small Salem High School, managed to get his 87 yards on just nine carries against Utah State where it took Berger, who went to New Jersey prep football powerhouse Don Bosco, 15 totes to reach that number.

But, similarly, perhaps Wisconsin found its running back of the future with both of these performances.

More Badgers coverage

Berger didn’t play in the Badgers’ opener but with Garrett Groshek and Isaac Guerendo both unavailable, he got his chance.

Berger got his first carry at the end of the first quarter, rushing for three yards and catching a pass for eight. At halftime, he had 28 yards on four carries.

Most of Berger’s action came in the final quarter of Wisconsin’s 48-11 blowout win over the Wolverines, rushing seven times for 50 yards, including a 23-yard touchdown.

Despite getting most of his action in the second half, Berger ended up leading Wisconsin in rushes and yards.

Wisconsin’s backfield will get crowded again soon enough – head coach Paul Chryst lauded Berger’s performance, but also noted there are only so many carries to go around.

It will be interesting to see how much playing time Berger gets from here on out. Either way, it was a good start to his collegiate career. We already know how things turned out for Taylor.

Berger was one of five true freshmen to make his debut last week after four saw action in the opener.

Here’s the complete rundown of the young Badgers after two games:

 

“TRUE” FRESHMEN
Jalen Berger, RB
Illinois: Did not play
Michigan: 15 rush, 87 yards, TD; 2 receptions, 13 yards

Chimere Dike, WR
Illinois: Played, did not record a statistic
Michigan: Started, 2 receptions, 29 yards; 1 rush, 30 yards

Nick Herbig, OLB
Illinois: Started, 1 tackle (solo), sack, TFL, PBU
Michigan: Started, 5 tackles (5 solo), 3 TFL

Jack Nelson, OL
Illinois: Did not play
Michigan: Played, did not record a statistic

Riley Nowakowski, OLB
Illinois: 1 tackle (solo)
Michigan: Played, did not record a statistic

James Thompson Jr., DE
Illinois: Did not play
Michigan: Played, did not record a statistic

Jack Van Dyke, K
Illinois: 8 kickoffs, 1 touchback
Michigan: 8 kickoffs, 4 touchbacks; 1 tackle (solo)

Aaron Witt, OLB
Illinois: Did not play
Michigan: Played, did not record a statistic

Preston Zachman, ILB
Illinois: Did not play
Michigan: Played, did not record a statistic

Have not played
Haakon Anderson, WR; Dylan Barrett, OL; Ben Barten, OL; Tano Bortolini, OL; Devin Chandler, WR; Cole Dakovich, TE; Ross Gengler, ILB; Kaden Johnson, OLB; Kerry Kodanko, OL; Cam Large, TE; Max Lofy, CB; Cade McDonald, DE; Gavin Meyers, K/P; Malik Reed, ILB; Isaac Smith, WR; Sean Timmis, OL; Jordan Turner, ILB; Trey Wedig, OL; Amaun Williams, CB; Daniel Wright, QB;

 

REDSHIRT FRESHMEN
Stephan Bracy, WR
Illinois: 2 kick returns for 28 yards
Michigan: 1 kick return for 33 yards; 1 rush, 3 yards

Logan Brown, OL
Illinois: Played, did not record a statistic
Michigan: Played, did not record a statistic

Dean Engram, WR
Illinois: Played, did not record a statistic
Michigan: 2 punt returns for 0 yards

Tatum Grass, ILB
Illinois: 1 tackle (solo)
Michigan: 2 tackles (1 solo)

Spencer Lytle, OLB
Illinois: Did not play
Michigan: 1 tackle

Semar Melvin, CB
Illinois: Did not play
Michigan: 1 tackle (solo)

Graham Mertz, QB
Illinois: Started, 20-of-21 passing, 248 yards, 5 TD; 5 rush, 2 yards
Michigan: Started, 12-of22 passing, 127 yards, 2 TD; 3 rush, 8 yards

Hayden Rucci, TE
Illinois: Played, did not record a statistic
Michigan: Played, did not record a statistic

Joe Tippmann, OL
Illinois: Did not play
Michigan: Played, did not record a statistic

Titus Toler, S
Illinois: INT
Michigan: Played, did not record a statistic

Have not played
Peter Bowden, LS; Dante Caputo, S; Clay Cundiff, TE; Julius Davis, RB; Quan Easterling, FB; Rodas Johnson, DE; Cooper Nelson, WR; Maema Njongmeta, ILB; Gio Paez, DE.

 

“TRUE” SOPHOMORES
Keeanu Benton, NT
Illinois: Started, 3 tackles (2 solo)
Michigan: Started, 1 tackle

Leo Chenal, ILB
Illinois: Started, 4 tackles (1 solo)
Michigan: Started, 3 tackles (3 solo), sack, TFL, INT, QBH

Jordan DiBenedetto, WR
Illinois: Played, did not record a statistic
Michigan: Played, did not record a statistic