Tuesday December 9th, 2014

En route to his Heisman Trophy-worthy season, Wisconsin running back Melvin Gordon found a new way to ensure his teammates were keeping pace with his workouts: Snapchat.

In Brian Hamilton's story on Gordon in last week's Sports Illustrated, the Badgers star -- who was named a Heisman finalist on Monday -- explained his use of the social media service to keep tabs on teammates.

The most dog-eared tale of Gordon’s work ethic involves senior receiver Kenzel Doe and Gordon’s preferred method of communication: Snapchat, a social media service in which photos or videos pop up for 10 seconds and then disappear. Doe and Gordon are extremely close and similarly wired, always lining up next to each other for sprints, reveling in one-upmanship. After a night out in Madison over the summer, Doe awoke to a Snapchat video from his friend and foil, who had carried an agility ladder to a small swath of grass and sweated through footwork drills at 3 a.m. “He was out there saying, ‘I don’t know what you’re doing, but I’m working,’” Doe says. “I saw it the next morning like, No, this dude didn’t.”

The late-night Snaps might've been a nuisance during the summer, but it seems like they've paid off for Gordon. The junior became the fastest player to reach 2,000 rushing yards in a season and briefly held the FBS record for most rushing yards in a single game (408 vs. Nebraska). Entering Wisconsin's Outback Bowl matchup against Auburn, Gordon has 2,336 rushing yards, 293 shy of breaking Barry Sanders' all-time single-season NCAA record.

Gordon said he got the idea for the late-night/early-morning messages from former Wisconsin running backs coach Thomas Hammock (now the RBs coach for the Baltimore Ravens). As he told Hamilton, Gordon used to receive late-night texts from Gordon who asked why he was "snoozing" while others were already working out.

The specter of falling behind was too much. “Someone out there was up early, getting better,” Gordon says. “I’m sure of it.”

His obsessiveness about football is leavened by his daffiness on Snapchat. In one video he practiced facial expressions for magazine covers. In another he took a drink of water, contemplated the bottle or glass, then turned to stare directly at the camera. “He probably does that twice a day,” Ogunbowale says. “He used to just laugh every time he did it.” Before a recent interview at the football complex he took footage of himself walking through the lobby with a math tutor, who pleaded with Gordon to stop.

Then there is what Gordon called “meeting randoms.” In the week of the Nebraska game he had time to kill, so he stopped fellow students on the street and shot videos in which he asked their names and how they were doing. That was it. He never said who he was. “One of the guys knew me,” Gordon says. “Some people know me, some people don’t.”

Mike Fiammetta

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