PASADENA, CALIF. -- An ending befit for a successful Wisconsin senior class unfolds on the west coast as the Badgers prepare to face No. 6 Oregon in the 2020 Rose Bowl Game.
Unfortunately for wide receiver A.J. Taylor, his role in "The Granddaddy of Them All" will be delegated to the sidelines after he tore his Achilles tendon against Minnesota on Nov. 30.
"Yeah, I’m cheerleader now," Taylor told reporters on Dec. 30. "I'm definitely gonna be a cheerleader. I'm gonna support the guys. If I see anything out there that I feel like guys can take advantage of, I'll just talk to them about that.”
Taylor suffered the injury on a 2nd-and-7 in the second quarter inside TCF Bank Stadium after catching a four-yard pass from junior quarterback Jack Coan. The senior conceded when it first happened, he figured it was a rolled ankle.
“Then I start thinking maybe it was a sprained ankle," Taylor said. "Then I started seeing the trainers talk to each other, so then I was like, ‘OK, maybe this is a little bit more serious.’”
Taylor admitted that the situation was emotional once it was confirmed that his right Achilles was torn, but after a couple of days, he moved forward and focused on rehabbing and coming back. He acknowledged that surgery was performed the following Tuesday after the road victory against the Gophers.
The recovery process currently projects out to be about six to nine months, "probably a year mentally to get right," according to Taylor. That means the fourth-year receiver not only missed Wisconsin's Big Ten Championship game loss to Ohio State but also the opportunity to play in the upcoming, 106th edition of the Rose Bowl Game on Jan. 1 (4 p.m. CT, ESPN).
"I really wanted to be out there with the guys [in Indianapolis] and just be there to support them, but I couldn't even go to the [Big Ten Championship in December] game because I was on oxycodone," Taylor said. "I was just trying to get healthy.”
However, Taylor is out in California with his teammates, though he is sporting a form of protective boot that runs from his right foot up his calf but below his knee. He moved around during Wisconsin’s media day with help of a scooter.
Though his Wisconsin career was cut short, Taylor finishes his time in Madison with 89 career receptions for 1,316 yards (14.8 yards per reception) and 10 touchdowns.
In his final season in 2019, Taylor caught 23 balls for 267 yards with two receiving scores. One came in the second quarter of a key November matchup at Nebraska. The Kansas City, Mo., native hauled in what became a go-ahead, 55-yard touchdown reception, and the Badgers would not trail the rest of the game.
Now, Taylor looks ahead at couple of different avenues -- one on the field at the next level in the NFL, the other not too far away from Pasadena.
“The plan is really to rehab and shoot my shot at the league," Taylor said.
That second possible career path comes with the potential of breaking into the show business industry down the line. He wants to enter into the acting and filmmaking profession, and he believes he is in a great spot at the moment.
"I've made some good connections," Taylor. "I've talked to some people. That's all in the works right now."