After a record-setting season where Wisconsin running back Montee Ball looked completely unstoppable with 1,923 yards on the ground, 33 touchdowns, 24 catches for 306 yards, and six more touchdowns receiving. It seemed like there wasn’t a game last year where Ball didn’t have two or three touchdowns. This year, it seemed like Ball made a mistake returning to Wisconsin early on, where he had over 100 yards in just two of the team’s first five games.
Down the stretch, however, Ball has exploded and run for over 100 yards in all but one of the team’s last six games. Ball has 17 touchdowns so far this season, and 72 on his career. He is currently tied with former Miami (OH) running back Travis Prentice for the NCAA record for touchdowns in a career. With only one regular season game remaining, Ball looks poised to break that record and potentially pad his stats a bit against Penn State.
The Doak Walker Award winner from a year ago has proven this season that he is capable of handling a big load between the tackles, carrying the ball 284 times. Over the course of the next game or two, Ball is poised to set a career mark for carries in a season. Without Russell Wilson in the fold, the Badgers have had to really rely on the abilities of Ball, and it’s a miracle he’s been able to be as productive as he has with a real lack of solid passing (compared to what Russell Wilson did) in Wisconsin.
So, the question remains–is Ball the top running back in this year’s draft? Well, when you consider what happened to Marcus Lattimore and the uncertainty of underclassmen entering, Ball is certainly the most proven back that will be available in 2013.
This looks like a pretty weak or at least wide open year for someone to claim the top RB spot, so why not Ball? He’s not overly elusive, but he’s definitely not anything like Ron Dayne or John Clay before him at Wisconsin. Ball is a trim 210-215 pounds, and he has some lateral agility. He is definitely more of a between the tackles runner, but he’s not easy to bring down and he certainly knows how to find paydirt.
Whenever Ball is drafted, there’s no doubt in my mind he could certainly wind up being the top back in this year’s draft.