There have been a couple of disturbing assaults involving Wisconsin football players in Madison, with the football players on the receiving end.
Prior to the 2012 season, star running back Montee Ball was jumped by four men and suffered a concussion along with facial injuries. Early in the morning of Sunday, July 21, junior college quarterback recruit Tanner McEvoy was mugged, losing his wallet, iPhone and watch while suffering several cuts on his head.
Thankfully, McEvoy was able to resume team activities on July 22, but in the case of Ball, there were questions of whether or not he would play Week 1, and he got off to a slow start to the 2012 season.
Perhaps it's merely coincidence that two Badgers have been victims of attacks in the last calendar year, but one has to wonder if football players are being targeted. Just days before McEvoy was mugged, the fourth and final suspect charged in Ball's attack was arrested.
Obviously, Ball is a much more recognized face and name around Madison. But McEvoy gained notoriety for being one of head coach Gary Andersen's first recruits, a highly touted JUCO dual-threat quarterback, which was a new concept in multiple ways to Badger fans.
McEvoy just arrived on campus this summer, so it's possible this is the reason he ran into trouble—he may have wandered into a troublesome area without knowing any better and nobody accompanying him, but that's purely speculation. There aren't many details about the mugging available.
Either way, talk about a rude greeting.
Regardless of how the situation played out, the fact of the matter remains that McEvoy and Ball ran into taxing, unprovoked situations, and that has to raise some cause for concern on the recruiting front.
The question regarding crime in Madison could come up when Andersen and his coaching staff are on the recruiting trail because of the recent attacks on football players. The Madison region has reported a lower crime rate than the Wisconsin statewide average. In 2009, violent crime was reported to be at a rate of two per one thousand residents.
However, there has been an increase in violent crime as of late. Late last summer, Madison police increased their presence downtown as a result of some gang-related violence taking place outside of bars, which is where Ball was attacked.
Last summer, it was determined that Ball was present at a previous incident the night he was jumped. With McEvoy, police feel it was more of a random act.
It should be noted when each of these attacks took place—in the wee hours of the morning on a weekend. That is not exactly the best time to be wandering alone the street no matter who you are.
Andersen will be sure to point this out with his recruits and their families, who undoubtedly want their kids to feel safe above all else when attending school and playing Division I football.
As long as Andersen makes it clear on recruiting visits to avoid wandering the streets alone late at night, specifically on weekends, McEvoy's mugging and Ball's attack really shouldn't raise much of a red flag—rightfully so.