Wisconsin running back Montee Ball has been through a lot over the past month ever since he was attacked in early August. But with the team's opening game set for Saturday afternoon against Northern Iowa, he must do everything he can to move on.
Jeff Potrykus of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports three people who were allegedly involved in the attack, which left Ball with various injuries including a concussion, were arrested. All of them received tentative charges while police continue to research the case.
That should help Ball as he attempts to refocus on football. He's a major piece of the Wisconsin offense, and the 12th-ranked Badgers won't be nearly as dangerous if he's at anything less than 100 percent both physically and mentally.
The senior contributed 2,230 total yards and 39 touchdowns last season, making him one of the most valuable players in the nation and a Heisman finalist. The Badgers need a similar level of production from him this year.
A scary incident like the one Ball endured has the ability to significantly impact an individual, though. It's something nobody should have to go through, and the running back hasn't been afraid to talk about how he's dealt with it, as mentioned in Potrykus' report:
"I obviously still think about it," Ball said recently when asked about the attack. "But it is most definitely behind me.
"I have no more anger toward the people who did it. I'll be honest, I did. It was a bad situation. There is nothing I can do about it."
Although it does sound like he has the right attitude, only time will tell if he's able to regroup or if the attack will linger with him for awhile. It would be impossible to blame him if it did, given its proximity to the start of the season.
Luckily for Wisconsin, the team has four very winnable games to open the season, starting with Saturday's clash with the Panthers of Northern Iowa. The Badgers should be able to survive those contests even if Ball isn't at full strength.
By the time a matchup with Nebraska arrives in late September, however, Wisconsin will need Ball to be the dynamic, game-breaking back he was last season to succeed. Few players in the nation are more important to their teams than he.
Hopefully Ball is able to bounce back without any issue. He's always exciting to watch, and it would be a shame for something like this to derail an otherwise promising senior season for both him and the Badgers.