Montee Ball did something off the field that he rarely does on it—Ball made a bad move.
The Heisman finalist has decided to come back for his senior year and this will likely come back to haunt him.
While his loyalty to the Badgers' football program is admirable and his quest for the bronze statue may be worthy, Montee Ball’s best interests are served by entering the 2012 NFL draft.
Ball is one of the top three running backs by virtually all accounts to enter the 2012 draft. With fellow Heisman finalist Tyrann Matheu of LSU coming back, along with South Carolina's Marcus Lattimore and USC's Matt Barkley, he isn't any more likely to win the Heisman next season.
Ball is a punishing runner who touches the ball a lot. In 2011, he had 307 carries and 24 receptions. Also, Ball gets the majority of goal-line, short-yardage carries—33 rushing touchdowns alone this past season.
Goal-line stands are rife with defensive linemen and linebackers "selling out" their substantially-massed bodies, increasing the risk for big hits to Ball's.
Without multi-threat quarterback Russell Wilson in 2012, the UW offense will undoubtedly center around Ball, enlarging the bullseye on his 5'11", 210-pound frame.
Russell Wilson's versatility as a runner, thrower and smart decision-maker kept defenses honest this past season. It'll be tough to break free as often in 2012.
Without getting into a whole argument about how college football players should be paid, Ball's return to college football ensures another year where he won't make a dime for his substantial talents. Life expectancy for an NFL running back is less than three years.
If there's any time for a money grab, it's sooner, not one year later.
With Wisconsin's offensive coordinator Paul Chryst taking the Pittsburgh head coaching job, Wisconsin's play-calling may not set the stage for such a prolific season as this one was for Ball.
Granted, Ball will once again have a top college offensive line in front of him, but even they can't assure he's not going to take some big hits.
Let's just hope one of them isn't fatal to his career.