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Wisconsin's Melvin Gordon admits preseason hype is stressful

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Jeff Hanisch/USA Today Sports
Wisconsin running back Melvin Gordon enters the 2014 season as Heisman Trophy contender.

Wisconsin running back Melvin Gordon has received a lot of preseason acclaim -- for instance, he is the No. 10 player and No. 2 running back on College Football 24/7's list of the nation's top players -- and it sounds as if the attention is wearing on him.

"I have high expectations for myself already and now everybody has high expectations for me," he told the Wisconsin State Journal when asked how he was handling the Heisman hype.

He also told the newspaper that he is "stressing a little bit more than I usually do."

Gordon (6-foot-1, 213 pounds) rushed for 1,609 yards last season, when he shared carries almost equally with James White, who's now with the New England Patriots (White had 221 carries, Gordon 206). Wisconsin still will use a two-tailback system this fall, but Gordon looks to be in line for a hefty increase in carries. Gordon's rushing total last season was the eighth-highest in school history, and it's not a stretch to think he could at least flirt with becoming just the second player in school history to reach the 2,000-yard mark (Ron Dayne did it twice). At the least, Gordon should have a good shot at becoming just the third Badger with 1,800 yards in a season (Dayne obviously did it twice, and so did Montee Ball).

Gordon and the Badgers open the season Saturday night in Houston against LSU in what is one of the most-anticipated games of the opening weekend. Gordon likely is antsy for kickoff.

"I'm just stressed for no reason, and I feel like I'm not working hard enough sometimes and that's not the case," he said. "I just got to clear that out, man, and just get ready to play."

There is pressure on Gordon, and it has nothing to do with being a potential Heisman finalist. Wisconsin has switched starting quarterbacks, as Tanner McEvoy has beaten out returning starter Joel Stave, and there is no proven wide receiver, much less a proven go-to guy (the top returning wideout caught 10 passes last season). That puts the onus on Gordon, his backups and the offensive line to get the rushing attack in gear. He should produce, but the extent of that production will directly impact Wisconsin's won-loss record -- and any potential Heisman candidacy.

Mike Huguenin can be reached at mike.huguenin@nfl.com. You also can follow him on Twitter @MikeHuguenin.

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