The Badgers got some good news yesterday when Heisman finalist Montee Ball announced his decision to return to Wisconsin for his senior year. Part of the reason Ball's decision to come back was so surprising for many is the fact that it will be tough to top his staggering 2011 output in 2012.
Ball rushed for 1,923 yards on 307 attempts. His 39 total touchdowns in 2011 tied a 23-year-old single-season record set by Barry Sanders. With the departure of Russell Wilson, Nick Toon and at least two and possibly three starting offensive lineman, it is tough to imagine Wisconsin's offense churning out the numbers it did this season again.
That said, Ball has an opportunity to break more records if he stays healthy again in 2012. In addition making another run at Sanders' single-season touchdowns record, he's only 18 touchdowns shy of the all-time rushing touchdowns mark set by Travis Prentice in 1999.
As impressive as that is, Ball has a chance to break another record held by Prentice that may be even more remarkable. Ball has yet to lose a fumble in his UW career. If he's able to do the same in 2012 and receives at least 295 carries (he had 307 in 2011), he'll own that record as well.
Michael Hunt says Ball's return is a first step towards allaying Wisconsin's inherent recruiting disadvantages.
Tom Oates also weighed in, applauding Ball for risking injury to improve his draft stock.
CBS columnist Tom Fornelli disagrees, saying Ball is making a mistake.
More records talk: Ball could move into the top five in the Big Ten's all-time leading rushers with another strong campaign.
Jeff Potrykus came away from Ball's press conference impressed.
Phil Mitten took an in-depth look at where Jordan Taylor and Co. sit after two consecutive home losses.
Chuck Schwartz discusses Hobey Baker Award odds, with Wisconsin's Justin Schultz leading the way.