|Montee Ball needs only 18 TDs to become the all-time leader in the NCAA. (U.S. Presswire)|
Ball is the leading returning vote getter from last year's Heisman race. He finished fourth following a magnificent season that eventually saw him rush for 1,923 yards while scoring an NCAA record-tying 39 touchdowns. He is just 18 touchdowns away from becoming the all-time NCAA touchdown leader, a note prominently and helpfully displayed on his Heisman website (see, Michigan, that's how you do it).
Ball could have easily been the front-runner for 2012 if not for how well he did in 2011. To wit, his numbers last season were so out-of-this-world, he may have set the bar a bit high for himself. There haven't been many instances of a player winning the Heisman while having significantly worse statistics than the year before. It could well be that Ball has another productive season while still being perceived as falling a bit short. Such is the fickleness of the Heisman electorate.
What could rescue Ball from this fate is his career production. With a little over 1,800 yards, he'll land himself somewhere between Archie Griffin and Herschel Walker on the top 10 of the all-time rushing list. Coupled with being the NCAA's all-time Mr. Touchdown, it'd be an impressive sell to the voters. Ball will miss training camp due to his being on the wrong end of a campus ambush, but he should be fine for the season. He plays for the Big Ten favorite and is the latest in a long line of great Badger backs.
The Wisconsin athletic department is promoting him well and he enters 2012 as one of the favorites, but he'll have to come through big time to win.
Check out more coverage from Chris Huston on the Heisman Watch page