Badgers’ Ball attacked, hospitalized

Five men attacked star Wisconsin running back Montee Ball near campus early Wednesday morning, inflicting head injuries serious enough to send him to the hospital, authorities said.

The men jumped Ball as he was walking down a street on the edge of campus around 2:15 a.m., according to a police report. The men knocked him to the ground, kicked him and then ran off. Ball apparently didn’t know the men and didn’t provoke the attack, the report said.

Ball, a Heisman Trophy finalist last season as a junior, was taken to a hospital with head injuries, police said. Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema said Ball was released and under the care of the school’s sports medicine staff.

The Badgers open practice Monday and the season-opener at home is Sept. 1 against Northern Iowa. Bielema said his staff will evaluate Ball in the coming days but he expects the senior to make a full recovery.

Wisconsin spokesman Brian Lucas said Ball was resting at home Wednesday. He said he didn’t know the extent of Ball’s injuries, where Ball was going at the time of the attack or whether other players were with him. Most of the team has left campus for one last week off before camp begins, he said

A police spokesman didn’t immediately return telephone messages.

Ball had a stellar season last year, scoring 39 touchdowns to tie Barry Sanders’ NCAA record. He finished the year with 1,923 yards rushing and 2,229 all-purpose yards, second in Wisconsin history only to Ron Dayne’s 2,242 yards in 1996. Ball capped the season by rushing for 164 yards and a touchdown in the Badgers’ 45-38 loss to Oregon in the Rose Bowl.

He announced days after the bowl game to return for his senior season after NFL evaluators told him he would have likely been a third-round pick.

Police issued Ball a trespassing ticket in May after he stepped unwanted onto a Madison porch during an annual end-of-the-year student street party.