Montee Ball has always moved the chains like Rakim moved the crowd. At Wentzville Timberland High School in St. Louis, Mo., he ran for over 8,000 yards. He continued his record-wrecking ways in college at Wisconsin, running for over 5,000 yards. He currently holds the NCAA Division I-FBS record for most career rushing touchdowns with 77 and the NCAA Division I FBS record for most career total touchdowns with 83.
He’s a freak like Rick James, but the deceptively quick Ball is into sniffing pay dirt, not indulging in wild, cocaine-induced orgies.
Maybe if he was a rock star he’d get more props for his hardcore work on the field, but a 5-10, 210-pound back that runs a 4.66 in the 40-yard dash is going to catch some flack, regardless of what his stat sheet reads. A record 39 TDs and almost 2,000 rushing yards in 2011 got him a call to New York for the Heisman ceremonies, but he never had a shot. He finished fourth despite having arguably the best statistical season by a running back in college history.
Ball wasn’t totally ignored as Denver plunked the TD-machine with the 58th pick of the second round in the 2013 NFL Draft. It wasn’t the first round pick his stats suggested, but he didn’t get the Charlie Ward hand-to-the-face either.
As usual, Ball’s immediately separated himself from competitors Ronnie Hillman and veteran Knowshon Moreno for top billing in Denver’s pass-drunk, Peyton Manning-led offense.
Together, the three backs give Denver a formidable run game, but from the jump in OTAs, Ball showed he could find any crease, exploit holes and is as sure to get his “numbers” as the WIC check is to arrive on the first and fifteenth.
Ball is the Broncos preseason rushing king with 80 yards on 25 carries and scored his first TD Saturday against St. Louis, but HC Mike Fox still won’t commit to Ball as the starter because of suspect pass protection – a vital job in Denver’s offensive attack.
“(Ball)’s a guy that we want to get some touches, so we’ll go from there,” Fox told usuatoday.com. “Whoever we keep we’re going to lean on, and will play and I think our track record says that.”
Fortunately for Ball, Hillman is no better as a blocker and has developed a case of fumbilitis. Moreno is probably the best blocker, but his best days as a ball-toter are behind him.
Beyond pass-protecting and providing balance for Manning’s arm action, over the next few years, Ball could blossom into a lethal, multi-threat workhorse. The window of opportunity is small, but maybe Ball can be the same luxury blanket for aging Peyton, that Terrell Davis was for John Elway during Denver’s back-to back title run in the late ‘90s.