With a pair of off-field stories that have surrounded Wisconsin running back Montee Ball during the offseason, many have forgotten that the initial headline was Ball choosing to return to Wisconsin for his senior campaign.
Ball admitted that making the call to return was a tough one, but ultimately, the Heisman hopeful felt that he and his teammates had some unfinished business.
“I left a lot on the field last year. You wouldn’t think that with the stats I had, but the two games we lost, I didn’t play my best in, especially the Ohio State game,” Ball said. “I just want to make sure this year that we win every game, because we have all the pieces to the puzzle to make where we are going to make it to.”
The Wentzville, Missouri native appeared to leave little room for improvement when he racked up 1,923 rushing yards and 39 touchdowns. Ball single handedly scored more touchdowns than 42 FBS teams.
Numbers like that would be more than satisfactory for the majority of backs in the country at any level. Not to mention the millions of dollars that surely await Ball in the NFL should he make it through the season unscathed. But, despite all of that, Ball returns hungry for more.
“For me, personally, I just want to make sure that every big game that we play, I play my best game, because I’m a senior, us seniors have to play our best football this year and lay it out on the line for the (other) players.”
By being a leader to the host of young backs on the roster, Ball hopes to extend his legacy far beyond the numbers.
“That’s my goal. I stood up in front of the running back meeting room and I basically told them that after I leave this program, I want to be known- it’s one of my goals to be known as one of the hardest workers here and one player that other people can follow.”
Though he is impressed by the talent of all of his fellow running backs, one in particular has caught Ball’s eye. “There’s a lot of young players on this team who are definitely going to contribute, obviously one right now is Melvin Gordon,” Ball said. “He is looking very well right now in the practices we are having.”
It is clear that thoughts such as that are what Ball prefers to reflect upon. After all, now is the time to move on from the outside issues, it is time for football. Ball addressed his teammates to reiterate his stance heading into the season.
"I told them they are my family. I wanted to tell them I was sorry for creating another distraction and for creating more questions from the media for you guys,” Ball said. "I wanted to tell them I am all in. I have been from day one, but I want you guys to hear it from me. I'm here to lead the team and win."