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.
2017: Named AFC Offensive Player of the Week for his efforts in a Week 5 win against the Giants: 163 yards from scrimmage (105 rushing), a team-high six receptions and two TD catches…Started all 16 contests, posting 284 carries for a career-high 1,105 yards (3.9 avg.) and eight TDs, including a career-long 87-yard score against the Patriots that tied Paul Lowe for the longest run in Chargers history…It marked his first 1,000-yard season and the 20th in team history…Set career highs with 58 catches for 476 yards (8.2 avg.) and four TD catches…Opened the season with a TD in three consecutive games…For the second straight season, posted 1,200-plus scrimmage yards and 10-plus total TDs to become the third player in team history to eclipse that mark in consecutive seasons, joining Hall of Fame WR Lance Alworth (1963-66) and Hall of Fame RB LaDainian Tomlinson (2001-08)…Became the 13th player in team annals to surpass the 2,000-yard career rushing mark, finishing the season with 2,743 for No. 8 in franchise history…Topped 3,000 yards from scrimmage for his career, becoming the 14th running back in franchise history to reach that threshold…Reached 18 career rushing TDs, moving into sole possession of ninth in team annals…Ranks No. 7 in franchise history with 722 career rushes…Moved into 11th in career receiving yards among running backs in team history, bringing his career total to 1,087 as the 14th running back in Chargers history with 1,000 receiving yards…With 132 career receptions, ranks ninth in team annals among running backs…Posted two 100-yard rushing performances…His four receiving TDs set a career high for a single season…Finished the year ranked seventh in the NFL in rushing yards (1,105) and tied for fourth in total TDs (12)…Had the fourth-most offensive touches in the NFL (342)…Awards: AFC Offensive Player of the Week (Week 5)….at Denver (Sept. 11): Started at RB and played 45 snaps on offense…Posted 54 rushing yards on 18 carries (3.0 avg.)…Added 25 receiving yards and a TD on five catches (5.0 avg.), the third receiving TD of his career…Ran an angle-route out of the backfield to beat the coverage of LB Todd Davis to haul in the pass from QB Philip Rivers, and then leapt over S Justin Simmons at the three-yard line to reach the end zone…Surpassed 700 career receiving yards…vs. Miami (Sept. 17): Opened the game at RB, totaling 13 rushing yards and a TD on nine carries (1.4 avg.)…Posted seven catches for 65 yards (9.3 avg.) while playing on 48 offensive snaps…vs. Kansas City (Sept. 24): Played 33 offensive snaps after starting at RB…Ran for a then-season-high 79 yards and a TD on 17 attempts (4.6 avg.)…It marked the 30th game played of his career…vs. Philadelphia (Oct. 1): Opened the game at RB and appeared on 42 offensive plays, registering a seven-yard reception and 22 rushing yards on 10 carries (2.2 avg.)…Surpassed 1,800 career rushing yards on a 12-yard run in the first quarter…at New York Giants (Oct. 8): Named AFC Offensive Player of the Week for his efforts…Hauled in two TD passes from QB Philip Rivers in the right flat inside the red zone, including the game-winning score with just under three minutes remaining…Totaled six catches for 58 yards (9.7 avg.) and the two TDs…Exploded for 105 rushing yards on 20 carries (5.3 avg.) in his first 100-yard performance of the season…The 163 yards from scrimmage ranked No. 2 in his career at the time…Appeared on 65 offensive plays…at Oakland (Oct. 15): Registered the second game in as many weeks with 150-plus yards from scrimmage…Ran the ball 25 times for 83 yards (3.3 avg.) and a TD…Posted a career-high nine receptions for 67 yards (7.4 avg.) and a TD…Set the tone early with a 13-yard run on the first play from scrimmage…With less than two minutes left in the second quarter, leapt over the line on a fourth-and-goal from the one-yard line to score his third rushing TD of the season…Registered the 100th catch of his career on his eighth reception of the day, an eight-yard conversion on third down in the red zone…Moments later, caught a screen pass from QB Philip Rivers and took it six yards for the score, marking his fourth TD catch of the season and sixth of his career…Made the 30th start at RB of his career and played 58 snaps on offense…vs. Denver (Oct. 22): Started at RB, seeing action on 40 plays on offense…Posted a six-yard reception and 38 rushing yards on 18 carries (2.1 avg.)…Passed Rod Bernstine (2,007) for the No. 12 in career rushing yards in franchise history…Became the 13th Charger to run for 2,000 career yards…In the fourth quarter, lined up next to QB Philip Rivers in shotgun for a draw handoff, patiently waiting for a hole to open before taking the ball 21 yards…The carry marked No. 549 for his career, passing Gary Anderson for 11th in team annals…at New England (Oct. 29): Registered his second 100-yard rushing performance of the season, totaling 132 yards and a TD on 14 attempts (9.4 avg.)…Added a seven-yard reception…Became the 14th player in team annals to eclipse 3,000 career yards from scrimmage, passing Rod Bernstein (2,895) and Rickey Young (2,952)…Registered a career-long run on an 87-yard TD in the first quarter, which tied the longest run in Chargers history (Paul Lowe)…Lined up to the left of Rivers in shotgun, ran off-tackle to the right of the line and received key blocks from G/T Kenny Wiggins, G/T Michael Schofield, WR Tyrell Williams, WR Mike Williams and TE Hunter Henry…It marked the 14th rushing TD of his career, moving into a tie for 17th in franchise history with Buford McGee…at Jacksonville (Nov. 12): Started at RB, seeing action on 47 plays on offense…Finished with 27 rushing yards on 16 attempts (1.7 avg.) and 15 receiving yards on five receptions (3.0 avg.)…Surpassed Keith Lincoln (573) and Mike Garrett (572) in career rushes to rank No. 8 in franchise history…vs. Buffalo (Nov. 19): Totaled 80 rushing yards and a TD on 20 carries (4.0 avg.), bringing his career rushing yards to 2,271 to pass Mike Garrett (2,235) and Gary Anderson (2,250) for 10th in team annals…The score was his 15th rushing TD of his career, moving into a tie with John Hadl, Jack Kemp and Keith Lincoln for 14th in team annals…In the second quarter, took a handoff up the middle and cut right behind a block from G/T Michael Schofield to get to the second level where T Russell Okung provided a pancake block for the 20-yard run…Later on in the quarter, took a handoff around the right end of the line for a 10-yard TD, getting a down-field block from TE Antonio Gates…Started at RB, playing on 37 offensive snaps…at Dallas (Nov. 23): Started at RB, playing 42 snaps on offense…Finished with 65 rushing yards on 21 carries (3.1 avg.) and 23 receiving yards on three receptions (7.7 avg.)…Brought his career total to 112 receptions, passing Mike Tolbert and Paul Lowe for 12th in team history among running backs…vs. Cleveland (Dec. 3): Played 53 offensive snaps after starting at RB, finishing with 77 rushing yards on 19 carries (4.1 avg.) and four receptions for 29 yards (7.3 avg.)…Passed Rod Bernstine (888) and Gene Foster (905) for the 14th in career receiving yards among running backs in team history, bringing his career total to 913…Posted the his longest run of the day in the third quarter, taking the shotgun handoff from QB Philip Rivers to the right behind a pulling C Spencer Pulley, who blocked two Browns (LB Christian Kirksey and LB Joe Schobert) to open a hole, before keeping his legs churning to get inside the Cleveland 15-yard line for a 29-yard gain…vs. Washington (Dec. 10): Started at RB, playing 47 snaps on offense…Finished with 78 rushing yards and a TD on 22 attempts (3.5 avg.) and a five-yard reception…The TD marked the 16th of his career and tied Don Woods for 13th in team history…Took a handoff from QB Philip Rivers in the third quarter before pitching it back to the quarterback for a 51-yard flea flicker to WR Keenan Allen…On the next play, ran up the middle for a one-yard score…at Kansas City (Dec. 16): Started at RB and totaled 78 rushing yards and a TD on 19 attempts (4.1 avg.), while adding a career-high 91 receiving yards on six catches (15.2 avg.)…Registered a season-high 169 yards from scrimmage, ranking No. 2 in his career, trailing only a 261-yard performance vs. Tennessee (Nov. 6, 2016)…Posted a career-long 49-yard catch in the third quarter, forcing missed tackles by CB Steve Nelson and S Daniel Sorenson…Ran in a two-yard TD score in the second quarter up the middle from shotgun, utilizing sealing blocks from C Spencer Pulley and G Kenny Wiggins…In the second quarter, caught a pass in the left flat behind the line of scrimmage on a check-down route before driving upfield and spinning out of tackles by Sorenson and LB Reggie Ragland for a 21-yard gain…Played 53 offensive snaps…at New York Jets (Dec. 24): Played 53 snaps on offense after opening the game at RB…Posted 81 rushing yards and a TD on 19 attempts (4.3 avg.), surpassing 1,000 yards on the season for the first time in his career to top his previous career high of 997 set in 2016…Finished the game with 1,012 rushing yards on the season to register the 20th 1,000-yard rushing season in team annals…The rushing TD marked No. 18 for his career, moving him into sole possession of ninth in Chargers history…Late in the third quarter, took a pitch to the left for 18 yards after a cut block by G Dan Feeney on CB Morris Claiborne…On the TD run, took a handoff for a one-yard score behind the lead blocking of FB Derek Watt…In the fourth quarter, took a shotgun handoff to the right for seven yards to eclipse 1,000 yards on the season…Added three catches for 47 yards (15.7 avg.), moving into ninth for receptions among running backs in team history with 126, passing Keith Lincoln (123) and Don Woods (125)…The 47 yards increased his career total to 1,056 to move to No. 11 among running backs in Chargers history, passing Mike Tolbert (1,012), Rickey Young (1,031) and Paul Lowe (1,045)…Caught a screen pass in the right flat and received a freeing block from G Kenny Wiggins before weaving along the right sideline for a 39-yard gain…vs. Oakland (Dec. 31): Started at RB and played 54 offensive snaps, finishing with 93 rushing yards on 17 carries (5.5 avg.)…Added 31 receiving yards on six receptions (5.2 avg.)…Surpassed Don Woods (713) for seventh in career rushing attempts in team history, finishing the game with 722…Brought his career rushing yards to 2,743, passing Keith Lincoln (2,698) for No. 8 in Chargers history…Posted back-to-back runs in the first quarter that brought the offense from the three-yard line to the 23-yard line…Caught a screen pass in the right flat before turning upfield a using blocks from WR Travis Benjamin and G Kenny Wiggins for a 14-yard gain…After an audible by QB Philip Rivers, took a handoff for 16 yards, using blocks from Wiggins and G Dan Feeney before shaking tackle attempts by DE Khalil Mack and CB TJ Carrie.
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.