Most Indispensable Badger - No.1

Leading up to the season opener Aug.30, BadgerNation will announce its list of the 30 most important players to the Badgers' success in the 2014 season. One of a handful of players mentioned in the Heisman Trophy discussion, junior tailback Melvin Gordon is arguably the most important player on Wisconsin's roster.

No surprise here at all. To say Melvin Gordon is a vital part to Wisconsin’s success is an understatement. His athleticism, strength, quickness, work ethic, etc., make him one of the nation’s best offensive players. With the amount of experience that he has gained by learning from some of the greats, Gordon is the clear number one guy and show the nation what he can really do. The fans all know that Gordon is special, but it will be nice to see how the nation embraces Gordon. He is a special talent who is considered to be a freak of nature by plenty of college coaches. Look for Gordon to have an incredible year and be a legitimate contender for the Heisman trophy.

Stats: Fastest player in Wisconsin history to reach 1,000 career rushing yards (104 attempts) ... owns more runs of 20-plus yards (24) than negative yards (19) in his career ... 16 career rushing touchdowns have coveraged an average of 29.8 yards ... only lost fumble in career came on lateral play in 2014 Capital One Bowl ... has never lost a fumble across 288 rushing attempts, 3 receptions or 8 kickoff returns (299 total touches) ... ranks No. 13 in UW history with 2,328 career rushing yards ... owns 10 career 100-yard games, including nine of 140-plus yards … has led all FBS players in yards per carry in each of last two seasons ... FBS active career leader in rushing average (8.08 ypcs) ... needs 12 carries to reach 300 for his career and be eligible to break Big Ten (Ki-Jana Carter, Penn State - 7.27) and Wisconsin (James White - 6.24) records for rushing average … ranked 10th in the country and second in the Big Ten with 1,609 rushing yards, setting a UW sophomore record ... scored 12 rushing TDs ... led the nation and set UW single-season record at 7.8 yards per attempt ... just the sixth player in UW history to rush for more than 1,600 yards in a season ... only player in the country to have three runs of at least 70 yards ... tied for the most runs of at least 60 yards (4) of any FBS player ... rushed for at least 140 yards in 8 of Wisconsin's 13 games in 2013.

Strengths: Gordon has impressive strength, athleticism, quickness and work ethic to start. He has the ability to gain yards even while being hit a few times. His yards after initial contact is absolutely astounding and his average yards per carry will likely surpass the top rushers this season.

Weaknesses: If you had to nit-pick, Gordon hasn’t been a threat in the passing game to this point in his career. It’s one of the reasons he came back for his junior year.

Why he is where he is: Gordon is number one because without him, the Badgers would struggle indefinitely this season. He knows what it takes to be the best and he will make sure he does whatever it takes to be the best offensive player in not only the Big Ten, but in the country.

Overall: Gordon will have another impressive season and could easily break the 1,000 yard barrier again. His “freak of nature” abilities will be put to good use, and I will not be surprised if we see him in New York for the Heisman ceremony in January. The guy can play and will be the most vital piece to the Badgers’ puzzle this season.

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