Weight: 207 lbs.
High school: Detroit (MI) Cass Tech
Class: Redshirt junior
Jersey number: #30
Last year: I ranked Gordon #34 and said he would be the slot corner. He started 10 games at free safety, making 67 tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss, 2 pass breakups, 1 interception, 2 forced fumbles, and 4 fumble recoveries.
For a redshirt sophomore playing his first season at free safety, Gordon had an outstanding season in 2011. In the spring of last year, he was practicing at slot corner and doing an excellent job. The lack of depth at free safety - perhaps combined with Gordon's playmaking abilities - jumped him into the top spot playing center field. Toward the beginning of the year, he had a highlight-reel, one-handed interception on a double pass against Eastern Michigan; he also picked up a fumble in that game and went on to grab three more on the year. For some unknown reason, he lost some playing time late in the season to Troy Woolfolk (who lost his cornerback job), despite only an occasional slip-up like in the Nebraska game. Overall, he was a very solid player.
Now he's the incumbent free safety with no strong challenger for his job, but he has been rumored to be the best defensive player on the team; that was the case in the spring, and the rumors have persisted so far this fall. He will never be the fastest free safety, but he rarely gets out of position, tackles well, and always seems to be around the football. Gordon's primary backup appears to be freshman Jarrod Wilson, and true freshman safeties make me nervous. Wilson needs to sharpen his skills in non-critical moments until he gains the awareness and strength not to be a liability back there. Josh Furman and Marvin Robinson could also play free safety, but neither one excels in space. Provided he stays healthy, this should be a bit of a breakout season for Gordon, who could earn some all-conference honors if he continues to improve.
Prediction: Starting free safety; 70 tackles, 2 interceptions; All-Big Ten Honorable Mention
Poll results: Gordon was first with 59% of the vote.