Big Ten rankings: No. 22, Melvin Gordon

We have begun our preseason countdown of the top 25 players in the Big Ten for the 2013 campaign. This list is based on past performance and potential for the upcoming season only. We do not consider NFL potential for purposes of these rankings.

You're not seeing double. There really is another Wisconsin running back here for a second straight day ...

No. 22: Melvin Gordon, RB, Wisconsin, sophomore, 6-foot-1, 203 pounds

2012 postseason ranking: Not ranked

2012 numbers: Carried 62 times for 621 yards and three touchdowns.

Why he's here: Is it fair to have Gordon -- who has all of 62 career carries -- in our Top 25, much less ahead of his far more accomplished fellow Badgers back, James White? We admit this is a bit of a projection pick. But it doesn't take much projection to see Gordon's immense potential.

Bret Bielema said before last season began that Gordon was the most talented back he'd ever had, and that was saying something at Wisconsin. With White and Montee Ball ahead of him, Gordon was used mostly on jet sweeps late last season. He showed the world what he could do in the Big Ten championship game, running for 216 yards on just nine carries against Nebraska. He averaged 10 yards per carry in his debut collegiate season. Yeah, that will work.

We don't know yet if Gordon will eclipse White as Wisconsin's starting back this year. We do know that Gary Andersen will find ways to get the ball in Gordon's hands, and we predict that Gordon will use his long-striding running form to spectacular effect. The sophomore has been touted as the Next Great Badgers Tailback for a couple of years now. We think this is the season where he makes those pronouncements come true.

The countdown

No. 25: Jonathan Brown, LB, Illinois

No. 24: Mark Weisman, RB, Iowa

No. 23: James White, RB, Wisconsin