Montee Ball was the second best running back in college football this year. Ball finished his junior year at Wisconsin with 1900 yards and 39 total touchdowns. His incredible season in Madison even earned him a trip to New York for the Heisman Trophy Presentation. All signs pointed to Ball heading to the NFL early. A running back only has so many carries to offer and the shelf-life is short. Not to mention his star quarterback, Russell Wilson will be graduating, and it’s unlikely Ball will be able to top his production from this past season. However, Ball made the decision last week to pass up a shot at the NFL and will return for his senior season at Wisconsin. Badgers fans are thrilled, he will be one of the favorites for the Heisman Trophy next year, but it’s also a huge gamble and it doesn’t seem like there is much to gain for Ball by returning for one final year.
Montee Ball joined the Big 1070 in Madison with Mike Heller to talk about his decision to return for his senior year at Wisconsin, what he makes of people’s reaction to his decision, what is motivating him to return rather than enter the NFL Draft, who he consulted on the decision, and what he expects from Wisconsin in 2012.
What he makes of the reaction that he has gotten since making his decision to stay in school for another year:
“People that are confused with my decision to come back it’s their opinion but other than that I look at myself in the mirror and believe I made the right decision with the bottom of my heart. I believe I really did.”
When he knew he was staying at Wisconsin for another year:
“I actually told Coach B (Bret Bielema) and the running backs coach my decision last Saturday, two days before the game. Coach B was excited, he hugged me and stuff like that. That’s why I believe I made the right decision. With the coaches leaving and stuff like that I have a lot of faith in him that he’s gonna bring back some great coaches and next year we’re gonna be just as good.”
What is motivating him to return:
“I believe leading this team, leading the entire team and being a captain for this team and just being there for my players. That’s huge motivation for me, that’s gonna motivate me throughout the offseason and I’m gonna make sure to carry it throughout the season for my teammates, be accountable, and be a playmaker.”
How much his parents helped with his decision:
“Heavily. Talking to them was something I looked forward to and knew they would give me the best feedback. What they both told me is that they will be by me 100 percent whatever I decide. I really appreciate them saying that because this is one of the toughest decisions I’ve ever made in my life and like I said I believe I made the right decision,. I want to thank them for being honest with me. I believe what they did a great job with was giving the pros and cons of both sides and then just left it at that. Just told me to look in the mirror, make the right decision, and listen to your heart.”
What he is going to focus on improving this offseason:
“Last season I really focused on losing weight to become faster. I really didn’t focus a lot on strength , which I should’ve and a lot of it showed in my games. I wasn’t strong enough to get the third and ones or the third and twos so this season I’m gonna make sure I really, really attack the weight room and I believe it will carry forward to the field which will make me strong, I will be able to shed more tackles, and I believe attacking the weight room with squats and stuff like that will make me a faster running back.”
What he expects from the team in 2012:
“Being a player for this great program I do believe we will be better next year because a lot of people believe we won’t be good. I believe that’s a motivation for us all to prove everyone wrong. I’m gonna make sure to tell the team that. A lot of people are believing that we’re not gonna get the job done this year so let’s prove them wrong. I believe we will.”