Varsity - The Official Digital Magazine of Wisconsin Athletics

Varsity - February 27, 2014

Varsity is the free Official Digital Magazine of Wisconsin Athletics, covering Badgers football, basketball, hockey and more each week.

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16 // VARSITY February 27, 2014 BY MIKE LUCAS // UWBADGERS.COM LUCAS AT LARGE D uring the television coverage of last weekend's NFL scout- ing combine, Wisconsin's Melvin Gordon focused primarily on the running backs going through their on-field drills at Lucas Oil Sta- dium in Indianapolis. He was eyeing the future, not replaying the past. Gordon doesn't want to look back on anything, including his decision to return to school as a redshirt ju- nior in 2014. He's perfectly content with that choice despite speculation from anonymous league sources on where he might have been drafted this spring had he come out. "If I was there, what could I have run (in the 40)? How could I stand out?" he asked of himself during Sunday's telecast. "What would I have done in this drill? Or how fast would I have gotten out of my cuts? How well would I have caught the ball? I kind of thought about it, I definitely did." While closely monitoring his former UW teammate, James White, he was also checking out some of the other tailbacks. "I didn't see many guys who had a body type the same as mine," Gordon said, "and I thought a few of them were littler taller than what their actual mea- surements were." Arizona's Ka'Deem Carey, the third-leading rusher in the nation with 1,885 yards (276 more than Gordon), was the same height (5- foot-9) as White. But he ran 4.70 in the 40 compared to White's 4.57. "He (Carey) plays fast, that's all that matters," Gordon said. "Game speed is different from 40 speed." Gordon jogged his memory to the last time that he was timed over 40 yards. He guessed that it was the summer prior to his senior year at Kenosha Bradford High School. He was attending a football camp at the University of Tennessee and was motivated by something that he heard. "They said I would have to play wide receiver because I wasn't fast enough to be a running back (in their offense)," he recalled. "So that kind of ticked me off and I had to prove them wrong. I usually ran a 4.5 consistently and I ran like a 4.4, somewhere around there, my best time I had ever run." Gordon isn't sure what he would run today. But he agreed with NFL Network analyst Marshall Faulk, a Hall of Fame running back, that a truer measure is your speed over 10 yards. "They say the gaps in the NFL close so fast," Gordon said, "and you need the acceleration to get to the hole and through it." UW strength coach Evan Simon doesn't put much stock in a 40 time, either. "For every one play that a running back gets to run 40 yards straight without interruption," he said, "there's probably 40 to 50 plays where they have to cut and change direction and read what's going on and react." The pro agility or three-cone drill is usually a better measuring stick. "They're seeing how low you can drop your hips and get out of cuts," Gordon said. Dropping your hips is one thing, dropping passes is another. "It's a passing league now," he added of the NFL, "and you have to catch the ball." Gordon had just one reception last season; he has three over two years. It was one of the reasons that he came back. And, yes, he's still happy about that choice. "Oh, yes sir, definitely," he said. "I still feel I can grow in some areas. I want to brush up on all of my skills before I leave here." Wisconsin's new running backs coach, Thomas Brown, is deter- mined to help him do that. "I like Coach Brown, he's got energy," Gordon said. "I told him that I like learning from different people. With his experience, he knows things that I don't know and I'm eager to pick his brain." Gordon checked out YouTube video of Brown, who rushed for 2,646 yards at the University of Georgia (2004-07). "He was really fast and physical, too," he said. "He also got drafted, no matter what round (sixth round by Atlanta), he still had an opportunity that most people just dream about." That's how he looked at his for- mer coach, Thomas Hammock, tak- ing a job with the Baltimore Ravens. It was too good of an opportunity to turn down. "I was not surprised; I knew he had some offers before," Gordon focused on the future Continued on Page 18 "COMING IN AS A FRESH- MAN, I REMEMBER BEING THAT GUY THAT SAT IN THE BACK OF THE ROOM AND WATCHED THE LEADERS SET THE EXAMPLE," GORDON SAID. "NOW IT'S MY TURN."

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