During a Thursday afternoon press conference, the Wisconsin Badgers running back and Heisman Finalist Montee Ball officially announced his intent to return for his senior 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.”
Ball’s team lost the Rose Bowl 45-38 to the Oregon Ducks, but he tied Barry Sanders for the most touchdowns scored in a single season. Right now, some think his NFL draft stock is about as high as it can be.
Ball, who should enter 2012 as a likely favorite for the Heisman, also cited academics as another strong reason to return.
“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.”
The talented halfback also had a chance to evaluate his draft stock and personally thought he could do better.
“They projected me for the third round,” he said. “Obviously, I wasn’t expecting third round. But by testing well at the combine, I’d maybe be able to get into the late second round.”
“That factored into my decision as well. Maybe by adding some weight and getting stronger and faster, maybe I can jump into the second round of maybe even the first round next year.”
“For the longest time, I was leaning more towards leaving,” he said, “because growing up as a child it was my dream to play in the NFL.
“I thought, `Man, it’s right here. I need to go right now. I need to go when I’m on top, when I’m hot and all of that stuff.”’
Ball will be returning to a Badgers team who is going through a lot of changes. Offensive coordinator, Paul Chryst, and a slew of other coaches will be departing for other coaching jobs. The team also has lost QB Russell Wilson who played his final season of eligibility with the Badgers. To make matters worse, offensive lineman Peter Konz and Kevin Zeitler are also expected to leave for the NFL.
It will also be interested to see how happy they can keep fellow running-back James White who will be entering his junior season after having a sophomore slump. During his freshman year, he was the Big Ten Freshman of the Year.
No matter how you look at the situation, Badgers fans have to be happy they have a great player back on campus for another year.
What do you think of Montee Ball’s decision to forgo the NFL Draft and return for his senior season with the Wisconsin Badgers?
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Nick Grays is a senior writer at the Sports Bank where he covers the Wisconsin Badgers, Green Bay Packers, and Milwaukee Brewers. He also enjoys to share Fantasy Advice from time-to-time. Follow him on Twitter by clicking here or visit his blog Nick Knows Best.Follow paulmbanks