Right now in our Big Ten player countdown, we wrap up the final player who finished outside the top 10 of our illustrious list. (Which, as another reminder, only takes into account 2013 performance.) And for the second straight spot, a Wisconsin running back makes an appearance.
No. 11: Melvin Gordon, RB, Wisconsin
Previous ranking: No. 22
Making the case for Gordon: James White was an incredibly productive and very respected running back for the Badgers in 2013. But Gordon was the one defenses really feared.
Just about every time Gordon touched the ball, you held your breath. The possibility was always there for a huge play. Early in the season, that was more like a probability.
He led the country in rushing early in October while averaging around 10 yards per carry. Seven games into the season, on Oct. 19, the sophomore had already eclipsed 1,000 yards rushing. Gordon's production then slowed down a bit, as White took on a larger role in the offense. Gordon still lacked the veteran's reliability and understanding of pass blocking, and teams began to figure out the jet-sweep package that made him such a threat to get to the perimeter.
But Gordon picked things up again late in the season and put up 143 rushing yards against a tough South Carolina defense in the Capital One Bowl. He thrilled Badgers fans by announcing he'd return for his redshirt junior year. After a 1,609-yard, 12-touchdown campaign in his first season as a full-time player, Gordon's ceiling is about as high as that of any player in the country for 2014.