MADISON — Melvin Gordon was the center of attention Friday as the University of Wisconsin kicked off the football season with its annual media day at Camp Randall Stadium.
The Bradford graduate and redshirt junior tailback enters fall camp appearing on most preseason watch lists, including the short list of contenders for the Heisman Trophy.
Second-year head coach Gary Andersen has spent the run-up to fall camp touting Gordon’s growth into a leadership position with the Badgers.
“To this point (I) couldn’t be more proud of the way he handles his team, his expectations of his team and I think that will be able to show as we continue to grow,” Andersen said. “He’ll give the credit to the (offensive linemen) and tight ends and fullbacks and quarterbacks, but he expects to be a great tailback.”
The 6-foot-1, 213-pound Gordon rushed for 1,609 yards and 12 touchdowns last season, sharing the lead-back load with New England Patriots’ draftee James White. Earlier this week, Gordon joined seniors Warren Herring and Rob Havenstein in representing the Badgers at Big Ten Media Days in Chicago.
“I tried to have as much fun with it as I could,” Gordon said. “If you go in there (with the attitude) of I’ve just got these meetings I want to get through, it would be a long day. It flew by for me because I was trying to laugh and just have fun with it.
“Everyone doesn’t get a chance to go there, so why not make the best of it?”
The days of Gordon flying under the radar are long gone. He has already been named to the watch list for the Doak Walker Award (best college running back), Maxwell Award (national player of the year) and has already been tabbed first-team preseason All-America by both Phil Steele and Athlon.
Additional preseason buzz came Friday after the Badgers met the media. Gordon was tied with Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller for No. 5 on ESPN.com’s list of top 100 players in college football. The list was generated from a poll of ESPN.com’s 32 college football writers and editors.
Being the focal point of media, and likely opposing defenses, doesn’t add to the challenge of the 2014 season, Gordon said.
“I don’t think so and you can’t really worry about all that,” Gordon said. “That’s when you start messing up and playing outside of yourself, which isn’t good.”