Flying in the face of what other people thought was best for his football future, Montee Ball has confirmed Wednesday’s reports: he’s heading back to school.
At a press conference Thursday, Ball announced that he will return to Wisconsin for his senior season. Ball was given a third-round grade by the NFL’s draft advisory committee, which likely was the overriding factor in his decision to stay with the Badgers for another season.
“I believe that I am mentally ready (for the NFL),” Ball said, “but I think I need to become stronger and faster and I believe another year in the program will most definitely get me to that level.
“I do believe that I need to come back for my degree because education is most important and that will give me another year to become a better football player. I believe it’s a win-win situation.”
This decision is actually no surprise to the UW football program; the running back informed his coaches after telling his parents Saturday and his teammates in the locker room following the Rose Bowl loss to Oregon Monday that he would be returning for another year.
Ball currently leads the nation in rushing with 1,923 yards and scored 39 total touchdowns this season — 33 rushing, six receiving.
Along with Matt Barkley, who also surprised most observers by returning to USC for another season, Ball will enter the 2012 season as one of the Heisman front-runners. He was a finalist for the stiff-arm trophy in 2011, and finished fourth in the voting; the three finalists who finished ahead of him — Baylor’s Robert Griffin III, Stanford’s Andrew Luck and Alabama’s Trent Richardson — all either have announced or are expected to announce they are leaving early for the NFL draft.