Melvin Gordon III (born April 13, 1993) is an American football running back for the San Diego Chargers of the National Football League (NFL). He was drafted by the Chargers in the first round of the 2015 NFL draft. He played college football at Wisconsin. Gordon briefly held the NCAA Division I FBS single game rushing yardage record with 408 yards, set playing in three quarters against Nebraska on November 15, 2014, until it was broken the following week by Oklahoma Sooners running back Samaje Perine with 427 yards. Gordon became the second all-time single season rusher in FBS history with 2,587 yards. Gordon rushed for 251 yards in the 2015 Outback Bowl falling 41 yards shy of Barry Sanders' record of 2,628 yards set in 1988.

Early years

Gordon attended Mary D. Bradford High School in Kenosha, Wisconsin, where he was a two-sport star in both football and track. In football, he tallied 1,098 yards and 11 scores on 99 carries, and had five receiving touchdowns, and was an honorable mention All-state and All-region by the Wisconsin Football Coaches Association (WFCA) as a junior. He was a first-team All-state selection by the Associated Press and the WFCA as a senior, after he rushed for 2,009 yards with 38 touchdowns. He was the Wisconsin Gatorade Football Player of the Year.

Gordon's high school teammate, Trae Waynes, was drafted four spots ahead of Gordon in the 2015 NFL Draft by the Minnesota Vikings.

Also an outstanding track & field athlete, Gordon was one of the state's top performers in the long jump. At the 2011 Racine Invitational event, he ran the 55-meter dash in a PR 6.39 seconds on his way to a first-place finish. He earned a second-place finish in the 100-meter dash at the 2011 SEC Outdoor Conference, recording a career-best time of 10.95 seconds. At the 2011 WIAA Track & Field State Championships, he took silver in the long jump event after posting a career-best leap of 7.20 meters (23 ft 7 in).

Regarded as a four-star recruit by, Gordon was ranked the No. 24 running back in the nation. He was ranked the top player in Wisconsin by He chose Wisconsin over scholarship offers from Iowa, Louisville and Michigan. Gordon originally committed to the University of Iowa but decommitted and chose the University of Wisconsin–Madison instead.

NameHome townHigh school / collegeHeightWeight40Commit date
Melvin Gordon
Kenosha, WIBradford6 ft 1 in (1.85 m)185 lb (84 kg)4.5Dec 5, 2010 
Scout:   Rivals:   247Sports:    ESPN:
Overall recruiting rankings: Scout: #38 RB   Rivals: #24 RB  247Sports: #6 RB  ESPN: #39 ATH
  • ‡ Refers to 40 yard dash
  • Note: In many cases, Scout, Rivals, 247Sports, and ESPN may conflict in their listings of height, weight and 40 time.
  • In these cases, the average was taken. ESPN grades are on a 100-point scale.


  • . Retrieved 2014-11-17. 
  • . Retrieved 2014-11-17. 
  • . Retrieved 2014-11-17. 
  • . Retrieved 2014-11-17. 
  • . Retrieved 2014-11-17. 
  • . Retrieved 2014-11-17. 

College career

Gordon attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison where he played for the Wisconsin Badgers football team from 2011 through 2014.


As a freshman in 2011 he played in three games rushing 20 times for 98 yards with a touchdown. He was given a medical redshirt after suffering a groin injury.


In 2012 Gordon was the third string Running Back behind Montee Ball and James White. Gordon set a career-high record of 216 yards on nine carries averaging 24 yards per carry in the 2012 Big Ten Football Championship Game against the Nebraska Cornhuskers where the unranked Badgers defeated the #12 Cornhuskers 70-31. During the 2013 Rose Bowl he had nine carries for 51 yards against #6 ranked Stanford but ultimately the unranked Badgers lost 20-14.

Over the course of the 2012 season he rushed 62 times for 621 yards and three touchdowns.


On November 14 Gordon was named one of the ten semifinalists for the 2013 Doak Walker Award. In December 2013, Gordon announced after much speculation that he would be returning to Wisconsin for his junior season. In explaining his decision, Gordon stated that,"I love the University of Wisconsin and feel that there is still a lot of room for growth...academically, another year in school will help me get closer to completing my degree, and on the field I hope to help my team get back the Big Ten championship."


Prior to the season Gordon was widely viewed as a Heisman Trophy contender. He was also on preseason watchlists for the Maxwell Award, Doak Walker Award and Walter Camp Award. 2014 was the first year where Gordon was Wisconsin's featured running back; in 2012 he was behind both Montee Ball and James White, and 2013 he was behind James White with Corey Clement as the third string running back after Gordon.

Gordon began the season with 16 carries for 140 yards against #13 LSU on 30 August at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas. LSU came from a 7-24 deficit to win the game 28-24. Wisconsin's head coach, Gary Andersen, was criticized for Gordon only having three carries in the second half and when questioned Anderson stated he "didn't know why Gordon had limited carries". Gordon stated to the media after the game that he wasn't injured. However, two days later Andersen stated that Gordon strained his hip-flexor on the last play in the 2nd quarter of the game against LSU and "we were trying to be smart with him as the rest of the game went on". In the second game of the season against the Western Illinois Leathernecks (FCS) Gordon was held to a season-low 38 rushing yards on 17 rushing attempts.

On September 20 against Bowling Green, Gordon had a career-high 5 rushing touchdowns and 253 rushing yards. Just two weeks later Gordon surpassed his 253-yard game rushing against Bowling Green when he reached 259 yards rushing against Northwestern at Ryan Field in a losing effort. After week six Gordon was named to the Midseason College Football All-America Team. Gordon was listed as one of 20 semifinalists for the Maxwell award on November 3, three finalists would be announced November 24.

On November 15, Gordon set the FBS single game rushing record with 408 yards versus the #16 Nebraska Cornhuskers. Gordon accomplished this, as well as scoring four rushing touchdowns, on only 25 carries in three quarters of play. The previous mark of 406 yards was set by TCU running back LaDainian Tomlinson and had stood as a record since 1999. He also broke the 339 yard school record, held by Ron Dayne since 1996, and the 377 yard Big Ten Conference record, held by Indiana running back Anthony Thompson since 1989. Gordon garnered multiple Player of the Week awards for his performance against the Huskers. The Walter Camp Football Foundation, Athlon Sports and named him National Offensive Player of the Week, and the Big Ten named him the conference Offensive Player of the Week.

On November 19 Gordon was named one of ten semifinalists for the Doak Walker Award and the Walter Camp Foundation listed him as one of the fifteen "Players to Watch" for the Walter Camp Award. The Doak Walker Award National Selection Committee will release a list of three finalists on November 25 and the Walter Camp Foundation will release a list of five finalists on December 3.

On November 22, against Iowa at Kinnick Stadium, Gordon rushed for 200 yards and had four receptions for 64 yards, leading the team in both categories. Gordon went over 2,000 yards rushing for the season, only the 17th player in FBS history to do so. He reached the 2,000 yard mark faster than any of his predecessors, on just 241 carries. The previous holder for fastest 2,000 yards was Penn State running back Larry Johnson who accomplished the feat on 251 carries in 2002. However, Gordon's single game rushing record was broken by Oklahoma running back Samaje Perine who gained 427 yards in a game against Kansas. When Gordon learned that his record had been broken after only one week, he commented: "That's disappointing, to have that. But congrats to that guy; that's really not easy to do." Gordon was named Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week for the third time this season as a result of his performance at Kinnick Stadium.

On November 25, Gordon was named as a finalist for the Maxwell Award with quarterbacks Marcus Mariota (Oregon) and Dak Prescott (Mississippi State). Gordon and fellow Big Ten running backs Ameer Abdullah (Nebraska) and Tevin Coleman (Indiana) were named the three finalists for the Doak Walker Award. Gordon would later win the award. On December 1, Gordon was named the Big Ten's Ameche–Dayne Running Back of the Year as well as being a consensus 1st Team All-Big Ten Running Back. The following day Melvin Gordon was named the Big Ten's Graham–George Offensive Player of the Year.

On December 8, 2014, it was announced that Gordon was one of three Heisman Trophy finalists joining Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota and Alabama wide receiver Amari Cooper. Gordon became Wisconsin's fourth finalist for the Heisman Trophy, all of whom played running back for the Badgers. Alan Ameche (1954) and Ron Dayne (1999) won the award, while Montee Ball (2011) finished fourth in the final balloting. Gordon finished second in the Heisman Trophy voting behind Mariota.

On December 10, 2014, Gordon announced his intention to forgo his final year of college eligibility and enter the 2015 NFL Draft.

In Gordon's final college game, the 2015 Outback Bowl, he rushed for 251 yards against the #19 Auburn Tigers in an overtime victory. He set the Outback Bowl rushing record with his performance and was named the game MVP. For the season, he gained 2,587 yards, second only in FBS history to the 2,628 yard record held by Barry Sanders since 1988.

College statistics

College Totals44/226314,9157.88845111.7222284


College awards/honors

2014 season
2013 season
  • 2nd Team All-Big Ten consensus (2013)
  • Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week (Week 4 - 2013)
  • Academic All-Big Ten
2012 season
  • Academic All-Big Ten

College records

NCAA Division I FBS records
  • Fastest player to reach 2,000 yards rushing, season: 241 carries (2014)
  • Most rushing yards by teammates, season: 3,536 (2014, Melvin Gordon and Corey Clement)
  • Highest average rushing yards per carry, career: 7.79
Big Ten Conference records
  • Most rushing yards, season: 2,587 (2014)
  • Most rushing yards, conference season: 1,648 (2014)
  • Highest average yard per game, conference season: 206.0 (2014)
  • Most rushing yards, game: 408 (November 15, 2014 vs. Nebraska)
  • Most rushing yards by teammates, season: 3,536 (2014, Melvin Gordon and Corey Clement)
Wisconsin Badgers records
  • Most rushing yards, season: 2,587 (2014)
  • Most rushing yards, game: 408 (November 15, 2014 vs. Nebraska)
  • Most rushing yards, post season game: 251 (2015 Outback Bowl)
  • Most rushing yards, single quarter: 189 (November 15, 2014 vs. Nebraska)
  • Most rushing yards by teammates, season: 3,536 (2014, Melvin Gordon and Corey Clement)
  • Highest average yard per carry, career (min 300 att.): 7.79 (2011–14)
  • Highest average yard per carry, season (min 100 att.): 7.81 (2013)
  • Highest average yard per carry, game (min 10 att.): 19.5 (September 20, 2014 vs. Bowling Green)
  • Most rushing touchdowns, game: 5 (tied) (September 20, 2014 vs. Bowling Green)
  • Most games with at least 100 rushing yards, season: 12 (2014)
  • Most games with at least 200 rushing yards, season: 6 (2014)

Professional career

"Gordon was already thought of as a borderline first-round pick entering the 2014 season, and then steadily built on his resume. With Todd Gurley's knee injury, Gordon is the odds-on-favorite to be the first running back drafted in the 2015 class."

Dane Brugler, draft analyst

At the time Gordon announced he was entering the 2015 NFL Draft, draft analyst Mel Kiper, Jr. had Gordon at #9 on his "Big Board".

After the end of the 2014 College Football season Gordon prepared for the NFL Combine at EXOS San Diego in Carlsbad based on his former Wisconsin teammate, Jared Abbrederis' recommendation.

At the 2015 NFL Combine, Gordon set a new record for the 60 yard shuttle with 11.0 seconds. However, the record was then broken by Byron Jones who had a time of 10.98 seconds. On April 30, 2015, the San Diego Chargers selected Gordon with the 15th overall pick.

Pre-draft measurables
HtWt40-yd dash10-yd split20-yd split20-ss3-coneVertBroadBP
6 ft 1 in215 lb4.52 s1.62 s2.66 s4.07 s7.04 s35 in10 ft 6 in19 reps
All values from NFL Combine

2015 season

On May 15, 2015, the Chargers signed Gordon to a four-year, fully guaranteed contract for $10.66 million, with a $6 million signing bonus. The contract also includes a fifth-year option.

Gordon began his career being named the starting running back for the Chargers' season opener, ahead of veteran Danny Woodhead and Branden Oliver. On September 13, 2015, he received his first career start against the Detroit Lions and finished the season opener with 14 carries, 51 rushing yards, 3 receptions, 16 receiving yards, and lost a fumble. The next week, he carried the ball 16 times for a season-high 88-yards and made a 10-yard reception in a 19-24 loss at the Cincinnati Bengals. On October 12, 2015, Gordon had 7 catches for a season-high 52-yards and also accounted for 42 yards on 15 carries in a 20–24 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers. During a Week 6 matchup at the Green Bay Packers, he had 7 attempts for 29 yards and also lost 2 fumbles in a 20-27 loss. After six consecutive starts to begin his career, Gordon was benched for the beginning of a Week 7 contest against the Oakland Raiders. He finished the game with 7 carries for 29 yards. Gordon returned to his starting role the next game at the Baltimore Ravens and carried the ball a season-high 18 times for 54 yards in a 26–29 loss. In his last game of the season, he had 15 rushing attempts and 41-yards in a 30-14 victory over the Miami Dolphins.

On December 21, 2015, the Chargers placed Gordon on season-ending injured/reserved after sustaining a knee injury the previous day against the Miami Dolphins. He finished his rookie season with 184 carries, 641 rushing yards, 33 receptions, 192 receiving yards, 6 fumbles, and no touchdowns in 14 games and 12 starts.

2016 season

On May 10, 2016, it was revealed that Gordon had undergone microfracture surgery in January, but would still be ready for camp and other activities starting in 2016.

NFL Statistics