Montee Ball to stay at Wisconsin

Jan. 5, 2012 at 8:58 PM
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MADISON, Wis., Jan. 5 (UPI) -- Montee Ball, who set a Big Ten record with 38 rushing touchdowns this season, announced Thursday he would return to Wisconsin for his senior year.

"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 get me to that level."

Wisconsin won the Big Ten's first championship game this season, then fell to Oregon in the Rose Bowl to finish 11-3.

Ball became one of only five players in major college football history to reach 30 touchdowns for a season and has scored at least two touchdowns in 13 straight games -- an NCAA record.

He gained 1,759 yards on the ground during the 2011 campaign, a school record.

"Montee will be one of the top returning players in the country and I know he will thrive with that spotlight on him," Wisconsin Coach Bret Bielema said during the news conference at which Ball announced his decision. "It's a credit to Montee that he is willing to accept that challenge and try and help our program continue our success."

Ball said results of his evaluation by the NFL draft advisory board suggested he would likely be selected in the third round.

"Obviously, I wasn't expecting third round," he said. "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.''

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