Montee Ball has collected several accolades over his four years at Wisconsin, but on Thursday night he added another that only one other player in Badgers history has claimed.
Ball was named the winner of the Doak Walker award, given annually to the nation's top running back, during The Home Depot College Football Awards at Walt Disney World. Ball has rushed for 1,730 yards (5.2 per carry) and 21 rushing touchdowns. That yardage total ranks Ball third nationally, while his 21 touchdowns are tied for fourth-most. Ball becomes the second UW player to win the award. Ron Dayne did so in 1999, the same year he won the Heisman Trophy.
The other two finalists were Oregon's Kenjon Barner (1,624 yards, 6.6 YPC, 21 touchdowns) and UCLA's Johnathan Franklin (1,700 yards, 6.3 YPC, 13 touchdowns).
Ball is coming off a game in which he rushed for 202 yards on 21 carries (9.6 YPC) and three touchdowns in Wisconsin's 70-31 win over Nebraska in the Big Ten Championship Game. More broadly, he endured a season which began after he suffered a concussion in an offseason assault and another concussion in Wisconsin's Week 4 win over UTEP.
Wisconsin's senior co-captain is the sixth Big Ten player to win the award, and the first since Iowa's Shonn Greene did so in 2008. Though Dayne is the only other Badger to have won the award, a Wisconsin player has been a finalist in each of the past three seasons. Before Ball was a back-to-back nominee in 2011 and 2012, John Clay was a finalist in 2010. Over the past 15 seasons, UW has had 15 Doak Walker semifinalists.