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After hearing he was projected to be no better than a third round draft pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, tailback Montee Ball felt he was better than that rating, deciding to skip the draft in order to prove his stock.
During the second day of the NFL Draft, Ball’s one-year wait paid off.
After no tailbacks were selected in the draft’s first round for the first time since 1967, Ball was selected with by the Denver Broncos with the 26th pick in the second round (No.58 overall).
As a junior, Ball rushed for 1,923 yards and 33 touchdowns. His 39 total touchdowns that year tied Barry Sanders’ NCAA record and were more than 42 FBS teams. He set an NCAA record with 83 career touchdowns after losing 25 pounds in the off-season preceding his junior season.
But scouts wanted to see more from him and develop into a more complete back. Adding some weight and muscle back on his frame, Ball did that despite suffering a concussion in August and September and dealing with the difficult transition of Wisconsin’s offensive line.
Setting a single-season record with his 356 rushing attempts, Ball won the Doak Walker Award and finished the season with 1,830 rushing yards, fourth best in UW single season history, and 22 rushing TDs, tied for second most in UW single season history.
“I think (waiting a season) really helped me out and I am really glad I made that decision,” Ball said at UW’s Pro Day. “I think it’s going to help me out.”
Ball was the third tailback selected in the draft. North Carolina sophomore Giovani Bernard, a good friend of UW senior running back James White, was the first tailback at No.37 to Cincinnati.
Fox Sports Next’s draft analyst Jamie Newberg calls Ball, “a tough runner with good power, vision and balance. He addressed speed concerns at his pro day (with a 4.46 40-yard dash).”