Many underclassmen considering the jump to the pros claim they will return to school unless the NFL Advisory Committee gives them a first round grade.
Wisconsin junior running back Montee Ball, a Heisman finalist who leads the nation with 32 touchdowns and 1,759 rushing yards this season, isn't guaranteeing he'll hold the same standard.
The AFCA All-American running back was asked by Jeff Potrykus of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel what could he hoped to hear back from scouts.
"Obviously I'd love to hear first round," Ball said. "I'd love to hear even late second. But third or four I'd most likely stay."
That sounds like a back looking to parlay his monstrous junior season into NFL dollars.
The 5-11, 212 pound Ball is clearly helped by a Wisconsin offensive line that may be the best in college football. He's clearly a talented runner, but it is telling that Wisconsin's backup, true sophomore James White, averaged 5.1 yards per carry and rushed for 683 yards and six touchdowns, himself.
Ball is a gliding runner perfectly suited to Wisconsin's offense. He can be quick to the hole and can exploit any crease in the defense, but also demonstrates the patience and vision to take advantage of cutback lanes. He's an alert and capable receiver out of the backfield. What Ball isn't is a powerful back in the mold of former Wisconsin standouts Ron Dayne and John Clay, though he does finish his runs with good forward lean and by keeping his legs churning upon contact. While not a powerhouse, make no mistake, Ball is an NFL-caliber back with quick acceleration, very good lateral agility to elude and enough top-end speed to gain yardage in chunks. His speed or potential lack thereof is one of the concerns scouts have about Ball, however. He's been estimated as a mid 4.5 runner, which is the primary reason why NFLDraftScout.com currently grades him as a 3rd round value.
Should NFL scouts feel similarly, it sounds like Ball will be playing for an NFL team, rather than the Badgers, next season.