Montee Ball is not going to win the Heisman Trophy.
At least, not if the voters think like Montee Ball, who told Scott Van Pelt on ESPN Radio that he'd have cast his own ballot, if he had one, for Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III. While Ball may not be the best campaigner among the five Heisman finalists invited to New York, the Wisconsin running back put together on of the most productive seasons in the history of college football. Nevertheless, he has the lowest profile of any of the finalists and is arguably not even the highest regarded player on his own team -- as that distinction is likely held by Badgers quarterback Russel Wilson.
"It's an honor just to make it there," Ball said earlier this week before leaving Madison for the awards circuit. "That's enough for me, right there -- just making it, just sitting next to all the other great players in the country."
While Ball's happy-to-be-there approach might miscast him as an also-ran seat filler on Saturday night, his stats show just how impressive his run has been. Ball compiled a mind-blowing 38 touchdowns during the season, setting a Big 10 record and coming just one shy of the all-time record held by Barry Sanders.
Being under the radar is nothing new to Ball, the 33rd-ranked running back in the country when he came out of Timberland High School In Wentzville, Missouri. As a sophomore at Wisconsin, Ball's own coaches clearly didn't seem to think he was a player with Heisman potential when he went without a carry in the Badgers' triumph over No. 1 ranked Ohio State last season. Despite taking a 21-3 lead into the intermission, Wisconsin couldn't find a carry for Ball during the second half.
A season later, Ball led the nation in rushing yards, rushing touchdowns and total touchdowns. If not for a narrow loss to Michigan State on a Hail Mary in the final seconds and then another last-minute defeat to Ohio State a week later, it might be Ball rather than Trent Richardson who had run his team into the BCS National Championship Game against LSU. While the Tide back is widely considered the top rusher in the college ranks -- unless, of course, you ask something from the Pacific Northwest, who will very likely tout Oregon's LaMichael James -- Ball's touchdown total is more than 150% that of Richardson. Hopefully the Heisman voters took the time to look up these stats because Ball surely wasn't going to go bragging about them.