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Montee Ball advised Melvin Gordon to return to Wisconsin

Andy Manis / Associated Press
Wisconsin RB Melvin Gordon will have a chance to improve as a receiver and blocker next season as a junior.

When Wisconsin running back Melvin Gordon announced last month he would return to school next season, he did so with the input of Denver Broncos rookie Montee Ball, a former Badgers star.

"I just told him, 'If you really want my opinion, I think you should stay. I think you should have the opportunity to be the starter, to take the bulk of the carries and really showcase what you can do,'" Ball told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Gordon rushed for 1,609 yards and 12 touchdowns as a redshirt sophomore while sharing time with senior James White. But Gordon has carried the ball 20 or more times only once in his college career and must show his abilities as a receiver and in pass protection, the kinds of question marks Ball told him to address by coming back to Wisconsin.

Ball had alleviated similar concerns in his junior season but returned to Wisconsin to complete his eligibility in 2012. That allowed Ball to set NCAA records for career rushing touchdowns and total touchdowns and win the Doak Walker Award as the top collegiate rusher. He also became the first player to score a touchdown in three consecutive Rose Bowls.

And as the backup to Knowshon Moreno in his rookie season, Ball has rushed for 95 yards on 22 carries this postseason to help the Broncos reach Super Bowl XLVIII.

Ball sees similar greatness ahead, at Wisconsin and the NFL, for Gordon, who averaged a staggering 7.8 yards per carry.

"Melvin is going to be a great player," Ball said. "Hands down, he's going to be a great player."

Follow Dan Greenspan on Twitter @DanGreenspan.

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