MADISON, Wis. — Those who labeled Wisconsin running back Montee Ball’s season a failure after four weeks are certainly eating their share of crow now. Despite a rocky start, Ball was named on Wednesday to the 2012 American Football Coaches Association All-America team.
He is the only Big Ten player represented on the list and becomes the first Wisconsin player to earn AFCA All-America honors twice in his career.
Ball’s well-documented season included two concussions — one sustained when he was assaulted Aug. 1 and another on the football field against UTEP on Sept. 22. Through four games, he had rushed for 360 yards and scored just three touchdowns. But much like he did last season when he became a Heisman Trophy finalist, he turned it on in Big Ten play.
He scored three touchdowns against Nebraska on Sept. 29 and two more against Illinois the following week. Then, he rushed for a career-high 247 yards against Purdue and tallied three touchdowns.
This season, Ball has amassed 1,528 yards rushing and scored 18 touchdowns. He ranks second in the Big Ten and eighth nationally in yards per game (127.3). Earlier this week, Ball was named the Big Ten’s running back of the year.
In Wisconsin’s regular-season finale against Penn State on Saturday, he scored a 17-yard touchdown to become the all-time NCAA FBS touchdown leader with 79. He surpassed the mark set by Miami (Ohio) running back Travis Prentice in 1999.
Ball is one of just two players on the AFCA All-America team for a second straight season. Georgia linebacker Jarvis Jones is the other player.
Wisconsin (7-5, 4-4 in Big Ten play) faces Nebraska (10-2, 7-1) Saturday in Indianapolis for the Big Ten championship.