A year ago Montee Ball was in the process of losing significant weight, hoping to become a slimmer back with a better speed burst. But this off-season, Ball had different plans as he bulked up 10 pounds, putting him at 215 pounds entering the month of June. Ball is not known for his freakish physical attributes, so his most recent weight change begs the question: will he maintain his speed and be the same back from a season ago? Absolutely.
The most underrated aspect of Ball's game is his incredible vision. Regardless of whether he weighs 230 pounds (his sophomore season) or 205 pounds (his junior season), Ball's vision will allow him to pick up consistent gains on the ground - he averaged 6.1 yards per carry in 2010 and 6.3 in 2011. By adding 10 pounds, Ball slightly bulks up to protect himself from injury and moves towards a more prototypical body for an NFL running back, but it should not be enough to inhibit him from breaking off big runs.
It seems it would have been logical for Ball to not change a thing from his junior season and to maintain his weight. In one of the best seasons ever by a college football running back, he led the nation with 39 total touchdowns as a Heisman finalist, but he felt worn down at times from the significant weight loss and figured he needed to beef up before his senior season.
"I feel stronger than I did last year," Ball said. "A lot stronger than I was last year. Coaches said in the spring it felt like I was taking the game over in practice and stuff like that. I want to do that in the spring, during our lifts, during 7-on-7 and take that forward to fall camp."
It would be nonsensical to expect a similar statistical season from Ball this year (I mean, we had not seen numbers like that since Barry Sanders tore up the gridiron), but do not be alarmed by Ball's weight. All of Ball's weight changes at Wisconsin have been intentional and meant to improve his game. He will remain a balanced running back, featuring his solid power, speed and above all, his exceptional vision.
Check out pictures of all the latest renovations to the Badgers' athletic facilities.