Ball To Return To Wisconsin For Senior Season

Wisconsin junior running back Montee Ball has decided to return for his senior season.

Ball, a consensus first-team All-American and finalist for the Heisman Trophy, tied Barry Sanders’ NCAA record by scoring 39 touchdowns this season. His 1,923 rushing yards led the country and were the seventh-best total in Big Ten history.

The inaugural winner of the Big Ten’s Graham-George Offense Player of the Year Award, Ball finished the season with 2,229 all-purpose yards, second-best in school history behind only Ron Dayne?s 2,242 yards in 1996.

Ball said he’ll take the next year to improve his NFL draft stock and lead the Badgers.

“The NFL came back and they told me the third round, so at best I world probably squeeze into the late second, mid second (round of the NFL draft), and obviously I took that into my decision. But, like I said, just listening to what my parents had to say and listening to my heart, I believe I have to come back for my senior season and really be a leader for this team.”

Ball’s announcement comes after Wisconsin offensive coordinator Paul Chryst announced he would leave to take over head coaching duties at Pitt. Wisconsin offensive line coach Bob Bostad will join Chryst’s staff as offensive coordinator.

“I have a lot of faith in (coach Bret Bielema). Obviously it is his job to keep the program where it’s at right now, so I believe he will find coaches who are just as good or even better than the coaches we had. So I have faith in him and I’m really confident in what I’m capable of doing for this offense, being a leader in this offense,” Ball said.

Ball said it was an even tougher decision than picking a college when he was in high school, but he said he loves being a Badger and wants to keep his promise to his parents to get his college degree.