Wisconsin Badgers coach Gary Andersen never coached running back Montee Ball, but he may want to thank him for his contribution to the program.

About a month ago, running back Melvin Gordon, then a redshirt sophomore, announced that he was not going to apply for early entry into the NFL draft. Ball might have played a role in that decision.

Gordon had submitted his name to the NFL Advisory Board to get an idea where he might be drafted if he did declare early. He also consulted with his former teammate, who will be taking part in Super Bowl XLVIII this weekend and got a very frank answer.

"Melvin, kept asking me, and I would just tell him, 'Really, honestly, it’s your decision,'" said Ball, a second-round pick of the Denver Broncos. "But 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's comments might not have weighed any more heavily than that of the advisory board or Gordon's coaches, but given the two played in the same backfield and Ball had suffered through the growing pains of being an NFL rookie, it's likely it played a part in Gordon's final decision.

Last season, Gordon led the Badgers in rushing with 1,609 rushing yards (7.8 average), but he shared carries with senior James White almost equally. Going into next season, Gordon will be the No. 1 back just as Ball was in 2012.

Part of the benefit of the 6-1, 207-pound Gordon returning for a fourth season is that he'll have a chance to build up his body and work on the ultra-important task of pass blocking.