A 2016 Pro Bowl performer and the Chargers’ reigning Offensive Player of the Year, the arrow is definitely pointing up for Chargers running back Melvin Gordon.
Originally a Pro Bowl third-alternate, Gordon was selected to the AFC All-Star squad after rushing for 997 yards in 2016. He ranked 13th in the NFL. Gordon missed the Bolts’ last three regular-season games due to knee and hip injuries, narrowly missing out on recording the the 20th 1,000-yard rushing season in franchise history.
One of the highlights of Gordon’s 2016 campaign was a 261-yard performance during a 43-35 win over the Tennessee Titans. Gordon was named the AFC’s Offensive Player of the Week after his effort which included 196 yards on the ground. Gordon’s 261 total yards were third-most in a game in team history, while his 196 rushing yards were ninth.
Another of the main contributors to Gordon’s allstar selection was a 12-touchdown season. After not finding paydirt once as a rookie in 2015, Gordon led the Chargers and tied for ninth in the NFL in touchdowns, scoring 10 rushing and two receiving. He became the first player in NFL history to follow a season with no rushing touchdowns with a 10-TD season. His 10 rushing TDs ranked sixth in the NFL.
Gordon finished 2016 with 1,416 yards from scrimmage (997 rushing and 419 receiving), a total that ranked 10th in the League and 16th on the franchise’s all-time single-season list. His three 40-plus yard rushes in 2016 tied for second in the NFL.
Gordon made large strides between his first two years by increasing his training regimen. Besides participating in the Chargers’ offseason program, Gordon spent time in Houston training with former NFL Most Valuable Player Adrian Peterson. Once an idol of Gordon’s, the two backs have become close friends.
Gordon originally joined the Chargers as the team’s first-round pick in the 2015 NFL Draft. The former University of Wisconsin product won the 2014 Doak Walker Award as the nation’s top running back and he finished second in voting for the 2014 Heisman Trophy. Gordon rushed for 4,915 yards and scored 49 total touchdowns for the Badgers. Both totals ranked third in school history.
A native of Kenosha, Wis., Gordon originally came onto the radar of Chargers General Manager Tom Telesco when he rushed for 216 yards and a touchdown on just nine carries in the 2012 Big Ten Championship Game against Nebraska.
Gordon’s redshirt junior season in 2014 was his breakout campaign. He rushed for a Big Ten-record 2,587 yards, second-most in FBS history. Gordon’s 184.8-yard per game average was the most by an FBS player since former Chargers great LaDainian Tomlinson averaged 196.2 yards per game for TCU in 2000. Gordon became just the third player in FBS history to rush for at least 2,000 yards and score 30 touchdowns, joining Barry Sanders and Kevin Smith.
An only child, both of Gordon’s parents played an instrumental role in his upbringing. His mother, Carmen, a nurse, has never missed one of his games. Before enrolling at Wisconsin, she often shuttled Melvin to and from football camps and combines as far away as Tennessee and Alabama to help his football career. She also stayed after him to maintain good grades and the life science communications major was named to a host of all-academic teams during his college career at Wisconsin. Melvin wore No. 25 for the Badgers because it was his mother’s age when he was born.
Gordon’s father, Melvin Jr., also known as “Big Bo,” played an instrumental role as well. He taught his son the importance of strength and conditioning. The family had a weight room in the basement of their Kenosha home and Melvin Sr., was a regular fixture in the weight room at Bradford High School. Gordon continued his intense training regimen at Wisconsin where he once ran every step in Camp Randall Stadium while wearing a weighted vest. The elder Gordon also made sure that his son had an appreciation for the NFL’s great running backs who had helped pave the way. A former semi-pro football player, the elder Gordon used to show his son tapes of great running backs like Sanders and Walter Payton.
While growing on the football field, Gordon is adding to his legacy off it. Last December, Gordon teamed up with the Armed Forces YMCA and Rally Health to host a holiday build-a-bike event for more than 50 children and teenagers of Naval servicemembers.
TRANSACTION HISTORY: First-round pick (15) by Chargers, April 30, 2015...signed May 15.
2016: Pro Bowl...Chargers Offensive Player of Year...first two NFL touchdowns (one and six yards) Sept. 11 season opener at Kansas City...became first Chargers running back since Gene Foster (1965) to score two rushing touchdowns in first half on kickoff weekend...first NFL 100-yard rushing game (102 yards) and touchdown in 38-14 win Sept. 18 vs. Jacksonville...scored game’s first touchdown (three yards)...helped contribute to score with seven-yard run on 3rd-and-2 and 21-yard run later during drive... one-yard touchdown run for 19-13 lead in third quarter Sept. 25 at Indianapolis...two one-yard touchdown runs Oct. 2 vs. New Orleans...first TD gave Bolts 24-14 lead...on drive had 12-yard catch on 3rd-and-12 and four-yard run on 3rd-and-3...18- yard touchdown catch for 17-9 third-quarter lead Oct. 9 at Oakland...became first Charger since Antonio Gates in 2010 to score TD in first five games of season...24-yard carry to one on next series set up TD for 24-16 lead...27 carries Oct. 13 vs. Denver, including career-long 48-yard tote...season-best three TDs in 33-30 OT win at Atlanta Oct. 23... scored twice on ground and once through air... raised season TD total to 10, marking most by Chargers player in Games 1-7 since LaDainian Tomlinson (11) in 2005...155 yards from scrimmage, including 111 yards rushing, Oct. 30 at Denver...became first NFL RB since Week 2 of 2015 to rush for more than 100 yards against Denver’s defense...AFC Offensive Player of Week and Castrol Edge Clutch Performer of Week after career-high 196 rushing yards, ninth in franchise history, in 43-35 win vs. Tennessee Nov. 6...was most yards in game by Charger since 2007...added 65 receiving yards for career-best 261 total yards from scrimmage, the third-most in franchise history...rushed for 100 yards in first half against Titans to become first Chargers running back to rush for 100 yards in half since 2007...43-yard run to Titans’ six on first play of second quarter set up TD for 16-0 lead...one-yard TD run in third quarter helped Chargers reclaim lead they would not relinquish (26- 21)...helped put away game late in fourth quarter with 47-yard run on 3rd-and-7, followed three plays later by two yarder on 3rd-and-1 to allow Bolts to run out clock...132 total yards Nov. 13 vs. Miami...15- yard catch on 3rd-and-14 in second quarter helped sustain TD drive for 10-0 lead...game-long 18-yard carry on 3rd-and-1 play during TD drive for 14-7 lead in 21-13 win at Houston Nov. 27...10th rushing TD of season Dec. 4 vs. Tampa Bay...injured hip and knee in first quarter Dec. 11 at Carolina and did not return... inactive Dec. 18 vs. Oakland, Dec. 24 at Cleveland and Jan. 1 vs. Kansas City.
2015: Three 20-plus yard carries Sept. 20 at Cincinnati, most in game by Charger since LaDainian Tomlinson in 2007...Team Captain Oct. 18 at Green Bay...rushed for 41 yards before leaving Miami game Dec. 20 in second quarter with knee injury...placed on “Reserve-Injured” Dec. 22.
COLLEGE: Consensus first-team All-America and All-Big Ten as redshirt junior in 2014...honorable mention All-America and second-team all-conference as redshirt sophomore in 2013...two-time Academic All-Big Ten...fastest player in FBS history to 2,000 yards (241 carries) in 2014...averaged FBS-record 7.8 yards per carry for career...set FBS single-game record with 408 yards in win 2014 over Nebraska...most valuable player of 2015 Outback Bowl after rushing for Outback Bowl-record 258 yards and three TDs in 34-31 OT win vs. Auburn...32 touchdowns in 2014 led NCAA and was second in school and conference history...set school records for 100-yard (12) and 200-yard (six) games in season in 2014...also led nation with 17 runs of 40-plus yards and 10 runs of 50-plus yards, while leading FBS in runs of 10-plus (60), 20-plus (35) and 30-plus (21) yards...tied school record with five rushing touchdowns vs. Bowling Green in 2014...rushed for 1,609 yards as junior, second in Big Ten history and most in school history...led nation and set school record with 7.8 ypc average...only player in nation with three runs of 70-plus yards and tied for most runs of 60-plus yards (four) in 2013...finished career with 631 carries for 4,915 yards and 45 touchdowns, and 22 catches for 228 yards and four scores...played at Wisconsin from 2011-14, though granted medical redshirt in 2011.
PERSONAL: Born in Kenosha, Wisconsin...first-team all-state, Wisconsin Football Coaches Association Offensive Player of Year, Gatorade Player of Year and conference player of year as senior at Bradford High School in Kenosha...honorable mention all-state, all-region, all-area and all-county as junior.