On a workout and diet regiment for nearly 11 months, Ball took time off to get away from training, the diets and the media to spend time with his family, his girlfriend and to recharge the batteries.
Maybe that's why the standing ovation he received Wednesday during the first media timeout of Wisconsin's 77-57 win over Northwestern affirmed his decision to come back for one more season.
"It's humbling, for sure, seeing all the fans standing and clapping for me is humbling for sure," Ball said in an exclusive with Badger Nation. "I am honored. I am grateful for it, and it makes me really excited to come back for another year and take this team where we need to get to."
Ball was on hand to receive the Chicago Tribune Silver Football award, given annually to the best player in the Big Ten by the newspaper since 1924, one of the many awards he received after a stunning 2011 season.
Leading the nation in rushing (1,923 yards) and tying the NCAA record for most touchdowns in a season (39), Ball was a Heisman Trophy finalist, consensus All-American, finalist for Doak Walker Award, the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year and the Big Ten Running Back of the Year.
Now, he's anxious to do that in an offense that will have a new quarterback, three new offensive linemen and new offensive coordinator in Matt Canada, who Ball was excited to start working with in the spring.
"At first I was caught a little off guard because he was a spread coach, but I got excited once I read into it and heard what he had to say," said Ball. "He's going to stick with the Wisconsin style and wants to score points. I have faith in Coach Bielema to choose the right coaches and I am behind him 100 percent."
Ball was frank in the fact he was ‘slightly' nervous that two-third of Wisconsin's coaching staff had left, but admitted he was excited for the fact that he could continue working under the tutelage of Thomas Hammock, UW's running back coach entering his second season at UW.
"I am really glad to have him back," said Ball, who plans to start training again this week. "He's a great coach with what he did with me. I hope we can take it to the next level.
"I think Coach B did a great job. I am behind Matt Canada, whatever he does, because I know he's going to do the right things. I appreciate that he's going to stick to what he's doing because, obviously, it's working. Hopefully he tweaks the game for us a little bit but still sticks with the plan and take it from there."
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