It foreshadowed more record-breaking feats during his Stanford career.
Taylor appeared in all 13 games as a freshman, carrying 56 times for 303 yards, finishing third on the team in rushing behind Toby Gerhart and quarterback Andrew Luck.
In 2010, Taylor earned Honorable Mentioned All-Pac-10 honors after leading the Cardinal with 2,779 yards - the second-highest single-season rushing total in school history. He was the first Stanford sophomore to rush for more than 1,000 yards since Darrin Nelson in 1978. Taylor also had a nose for the end zone, with his 15 touchdowns the third-most in a single season for the Cardinal.
He continued his workhorse ways in 2011, improving to second-team all-conference honors with 1,330 yards on 5.5 yards per carry. It tanked behind only Gerhart's 1,871 yards in 2009 on Stanford's single-season rushing chart. Taylor was just the third running back in school history to post consecutive 1,000-yard rushing season, joining Nelson and Gerhart.
Taylor earned his second consecutive second-team All-Pac-12 selection in 2012 as he chased Stanford's all-time career rushing record.
Taylor lacks an elite top gear, but he does everything else well - if not outstanding. He has a well-built frame with powerful legs, is a solid receiver out of the backfield and isn't afraid to throw his body at oncoming blitzers, making Taylor a likely second- or third-round selection.
Doesn't shy away from contact, and keeps his feet churning on impact. Keeps his weight forward through the hole and on contact, and is able to grind out the extra half-yard falling down. Protects the ball well through traffic, and exhibits awareness to shift the ball to his outside hand prior to engaging defenders.
Although his skill set suits a one-cut running system, he does display some shiftiness and wiggle to make defenders miss in space. Possesses surprising burst out of a redirect or stop-start.
Highly effective pass-catcher, consistently plucking the ball off his frame and looking it in before turning upfield. Gets his eyes upfield quickly after the catch and wastes little motion in transition.
Relied upon heavily at Stanford to stay home and pass protect, and did so effectively, particularly on cut-blocks and chips, where he displayed good physicality and use of low leverage.
WEAKNESSES: Will get over-eager on set-up runs to the outside, and will out-pace his blocks as a result. Doesn't always spot the cutback lane, and will engage defenders head-on rather than utilize open lateral space. Is a low-step runner who is too easy to bring down at the ankles.
Can be indecisive when presented with multiple holes, and hesitation results in missed opportunity due to lack of elite initial burst. Runs a bit narrow-footed in space resulting in the occasional balance check when asked to jump-cut or move laterally with suddenness.
Is not a burner, and lacks a second gear to pull away from secondaries. Despite his knack for grinding out the extra yard, is not a pile-mover and lacks raw power to consistently pound out excessive yards after contact.
COMPARES TO: BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Bengals - Like Green-Ellis, Taylor does not possess any one elite physical tool or attribute, but brings an element of toughness and consistent production as a runner to go with highly-coveted versatility in the passing game as a receiver and blocker.