August 20, 2009

Ball well-versed in playbook

MADISON, Wis. - As Missouri's all-time leading prep rusher, freshman Montee Ball entered Wisconsin fall camp with plenty of credentials. Now, 12 practices in, Ball seems to be picking up the playbook rather quickly.

Following a recent practice, caught up with Ball. The following is a question and answer with the true freshman.

First of all, how are things going for you?

Ball: It's going good right now. It's the first year at camp. It's a lot on the freshmen mentally and physically, so I'm just trying to push through right now and trying to capitalize on my mistakes.

Is your head kind of spinning at all? Are things coming at you pretty fast?

Ball: To be honest, yes. It is for every freshman. Your head is going to be spinning and you're going to have a couple off days. And, that's what our coaches say, you know. A couple of freshmen start hitting the wall. I'd have to admit I'm at that point right now. But, I'm going to make sure I'm going to go through it.

You come in with a lot of credentials as Missouri's all-time leading rusher. Are you hoping to contribute this year or maybe redshirt? Have their been any discussions?

Ball: No, we haven't really discussed it yet. Right now, I'm just hoping to learn from John Clay, Zach Brown and Erik Smith. You know, have them teach me what needs to be done and we'll see from there.

What have you learned from those guys specifically?

Ball: I've learned a lot. Work hard, keep your feet moving, all the stuff that I've been doing back in Missouri bust just had to be refreshed and just study.

Any of those three backs stand out more than the other?

Ball: No, they're all like three brothers to me right now. They're seriously like my brothers to me right now.

In general, as far as the college game and I don't know that much about your high school, but was your offensive line as big as what you have here?

Ball: No. No, here, they're way bigger and they're more physical. And I'd say more focused.

Is it kind of fun to run behind such a big line?

Ball: Yeah it is. Yeah, it's a great experience.

I know you guys haven't been full tackle lately, but who's the hardest hitter you've ran into?

Ball: Jay Valai. Yeah, for sure. Strong safety, I think he's strong safety. Yeah, every time I go up against him, he knocks me back. It's good though. It's what I need.

In high school, was the physicality not up to par like it is here?

Ball: No, it was nowhere near at all. Right now, I'm still trying to adjust to the speed of the defense. Back in high school, you could make one move and be gone. Now, you've got to be smart with it.

How did the summer conditioning go for you?

Ball: It went well. It went pretty good. I got faster, I got stronger and all the things that need to be done.

Did you gain weight?

Ball: No, I'm still at 225.

Is that where you want to play at?

Ball: Yes.

So far, what have the coaches been telling you? What's the biggest thing they've been harping on you?

Ball: The biggest thing is stay focused and stay hungry. I'd say that and I have been trying it. As a freshman, my head is spinning right now, but I'm trying to keep it balanced and stay focused.

How much time do you look into the playbook? Do you spend a lot of your time doing it?

Ball: Yeah, I do. What the running backs are telling me, at my spot, where I am right now, they were nowhere near close to it in the playbook. I know it pretty well.

So you're pretty advanced. You ran a similar offense in high school.

Ball: Yeah, that's why.

What's been the most fun part about coming out here so far in the first week of camp and really all summer since you've been here?

Ball: Yeah, I mean, I want to come out and play college football. We're doing it right now. It's a great experience. It's going to be fun. These guys are like family now that I've gotten a chance to play with them. It's pretty fun.

For some of the people that may not know about you, how would you characterize yourself as a player?

Ball: Very, very hard working and very, very hungry. No matter how bad I'll do in one practice, I'll forget it and come back the next day ready to work.

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