Alex Gordon has never strayed far from his Nebraska home, but that hasn't prevented him from becoming one of the best-known and most-dangerous hitters in all of college baseball.

Ask Gordon what he considers the best part of his game, and he gives a very succinct answer: "Hitting, and hitting for power."

The slugging third baseman for the No. 3-ranked Nebraska Huskers, who is wrapping up his junior year, has already secured a place as one of the best players in the history of his university's baseball program.

An All-American, he has won or been nominated for a host of awards during his career, and this year, he's one of the five finalists for the 2005 Golden Spikes Award. The award, which is presented annually by USA Baseball and supported by the Major League Baseball Players Association, is given to the nation's top amateur baseball player.

Gordon, who was selected second overall by the Kansas City Royals in MLB's First-Year Player Draft on Tuesday, also thrived in the pre-draft spotlight.

"I think it made me work a lot harder," Gordon said of the pressure he faced to perform this year. "I think I can always improve. I could have done better, but I am happy with way the year went. We played well."

Gordon said his coaches at Nebraska work with the players to instill confidence, and Gordon is fully confident in his abilities. Especially when a game is on the line.

"When I get into those situations, I thrive on that. I want to be the guy who gets the big hit," he said. "It's all about confidence. I think that I've had it all my life, but I've developed it. It's gotten better over the years."

During the past season, Gordon put up the numbers to prove that he has the ability to deliver time and again. He finished the regular season with a .386 batting average and a .530 on-base percentage. Among his 88 hits, 21 were doubles, four triples and 18 home runs, all of which added up to 61 RBIs. He's batted .357 with 43 homers, 185 RBIs and 43 steals in his 184-game collegiate career.

Gordon's baseball skills were developed while growing up in Lincoln, Neb. His father, Mike, played at Nebraska, while his older brother, Eric, played at Nebraska-Omaha. His grandfather also was a longtime baseball coach at Lincoln Southeast High School, the same school Gordon attended where he was a three-time All-Nebraska player.

A right-handed fielder, Gordon said it was his father who made him a left-handed power-hitter.

"My dad growing up always taught me to bat left-handed. He thought it would be a good advantage for me. I can't even swing a bat right-handed," Gordon said.

When he graduated from high school, Gordon elected to stay in Lincoln to attend the University of Nebraska, where he is a pre-criminal justice major. The decision has allowed his family to share in success.

"I think they [his family members] are proud of me," he said. "I'm just glad I'm still in my hometown playing."

As Gordon ponders his future away from Nebraska, the 21-year-old is hoping to make it to the Major Leagues as a slugging third baseman, explaining, "I've been working hard all my life to achieve third base and I don't just want to stop."

But if third base is not in his future, Gordon will have not problem, "as long as I am on the field, swinging the bat. I just want to be on the field."

First, though, is the NCAA championship tournament and the presentation of the Golden Spikes Award. The Huskers will be facing the University of Miami this weekend in the NCAA Super Regional Tournament.

"I don't think about awards," he said. "I just try to put some numbers up and help the team out the best I can, and those awards will come."

Dean Golembeski is a freelance writer based in Connecticut.