Copies of 911 recordings obtained by WISC-TV are giving more details about the severity of the attack on University of Wisconsin running back Montee Ball.
Ball was attacked Wednesday morning at around bar time by five men on the 500 block of University Avenue. Police said Ball was walking home with two friends after a night of socializing when the unprovoked attack happened.
"I'm on the corner of University and Frances, and some guy just hit Montee," one 911 caller said, identifying herself as a friend of Ball's.
In the background, others can be heard saying, "Montee, can you hear me?" The caller told the 911 operator that Ball was opening and closing his eyes.
Ball suffered a concussion and several facial injuries. Witnesses said he was knocked unconscious during the attack.
Witnesses who saw it happen said the attackers made comments about Ball being on the UW football team, and it seemed as if he was targeted.
"I heard the guys yell, 'Nine more football players to go," something along those lines, like they were in the hunt for 10 players, and Montee was one of them," witness Luke Will told WISC-TV.
On Thursday, police said their search for the assailants continued, as well as their search for anyone who might know anything.
"It's our hope that people will definitely step forward, that either have firsthand information or secondary knowledge, about who may have been involved," said Howard Payne, Madison Police Department spokesman. "That information really focuses the direction of this investigation."
On Thursday, a new report surfaced indicating that Ball may have been in an altercation a week earlier. TMZ.com reported that Ball and some of his football teammates had been involved in a fight at another football player's home, and the attack was revenge for that fight.
Ball took to Twitter immediately, tweeting, "The report that I was involved in a fight is totally false."
Madison police also said they're unsure how accurate that report is.
"I've read that report. I've heard a lot of information that's been unsubstantiated, unconfirmed," Payne said. "We do not have any police reports that suggest that there was any type of altercation, fight, disturbance within our department."
In a taped interview on WISC-TV's "Sidelines," UW football head coach Bret Bielema acknowledged how serious the attack on Ball was.
"Unfortunately, he got beat up pretty bad," Bielema said.
The coach said expects Ball to be at the start of fall camp on Sunday but not actively participating.
Bret Bielema said he has reached out to some team leaders and other players about the attack on running back Montee Ball, informing them of what happened and stressing their safety.
"I think the big thing, we always have a message to our players to have an awareness of where you're at, who you're with," Bielema said. "I think as Madison evolves here with the times, I think our players need to understand there are some changes involving them. It's a police matter now, it's under investigation, I really can't comment much further than that."
Madison police say their investigation is continuing. They're looking for any surveillance video from the area when the attack happened. They're also looking for any other witnesses who might be able to help identify the five men who attacked Ball. No arrests have been made.