When LaDainian Tomlinson was at Chargers Park toward the end of the 2015 season, answering questions from the media days before his number 21 was set to be retired, he was asked his thoughts on the then-struggling rookie named Melvin Gordon.
He gave a blunt assessment, explaining why he was bullish on the running back's future.
"I have had a conversation with Melvin about this," he said at the time. "The critical time for him is in the offseason when you go back and self-evaluate. All players should do that. When you self-evaluate, you learn what you need to work on... Melvin is going to be fine. He's going to do terrific things. He's only going to get better. He's still learning. It is not easy to make that transition from college to the NFL."
Sure enough, Gordon broke out in a big way during his sophomore campaign. One year after rushing the ball 184 times for 641 yards (3.5 ypg) and failing to find the end zone in 14 games, he carried the rock 254 times for 997 yards (3.9 ypg) and 10 touchdowns in 13 games this season. The 23-year old also chipped in 41 catches for 419 yards and another two scores after catching 33 passes for just 192 yards in 2015.
Thus, it should come as no surprise that Tomlinson is extremely proud of Gordon as he weighed in on number 28's 2016 campaign.
"I'm very proud of him," LT said. "He's a very motivated young man. I knew that when I first met him. I knew he had a lot of potential, and talking to him before this year, I knew he was motivated to put his first season behind him. He wanted to show people he's a baller and he could play. That is what I'm most proud of. For a lot of guys, that type of year can hinder your career going through a struggle like that his rookie season."
Equally important, LT thinks Gordon is only going to get better.
"I thought he showed a lot of promise. He showed what everyone knew that he had coming out of Wisconsin, and it certainly makes it exciting to see him (step up). I'm excited for years to come with what his possibilities are. I can't wait to see him next year now."