Montee Ball: Yeah, I would have to say a lot hit me hard, but there's a challenge in life that everyone normally has to overcome. It was a good thing playing because I got my feet wet and now for this upcoming season, I'll be ready, I'll be prepared and I'll be used to the speed of the game.
Badger Nation: You told me back in the fall that Wentzville (his high school in Missouri) was a lot like the Wisconsin offense and that the transition would be easier for you. Looking back, was it pretty easy to step in and figure out what you needed to do having that prior knowledge?
Montee Ball: Yeah, I would have to say that the run game was just like the same back home, but the hardest thing was the pass game. The protections and all of that took me awhile to pick up. Other than that, it was pretty smooth going.
Badger Nation: What was the biggest thing you learned from John Clay being behind him last season?
Montee Ball: Tenacity. His strength to just keep going and going and going was amazing. His patience is something I learned from. Just be patient waiting for the running lane to open up and then run through it.
Badger Nation: Does it help having him out, knowing that your reps are going to go dramatically up or does it hurt not having a guy like him just for spring ball?
Montee Ball: Well, I would have to say that it isn't good, but I do get the opportunity to get more reps and get better as an individual. You never want to see a player go down, but I am sure he will be back stronger after surgery.
Badger Nation: How has spring football been different than what you have experienced so far here at Wisconsin in terms of preparing for an upcoming season?
Montee Ball: I would have to say that you just have to think of it as if you were playing an opponent. You are really playing yourself, but you do get the opportunity to get better and prepare yourself mentally for the upcoming season.
Badger Nation: What was the biggest thing you worked on during winter?
Montee Ball: Adding muscle and dropping weight. I wanted to cut back on some fat, get my weight down a little bit so I can get the speed back that I had in high school making my feet quicker. I have lost a total of 14 pounds, so I am down to 222, and it's worked. My coaches have told me that my speed has increased, which is what I want. It's a good thing.
Badger Nation: You lose 14 pounds, but do you worry that you lose some of the physicality that you had as a running back?
Montee Ball: Yeah. I did think about that as soon as I got down to this level. I think I'll be fine, but I will just have to change the style of my running. I don't have as much weight on me, so I'll be all right.
Badger Nation: What's the biggest thing that you change? You want to still be a bruiser but in the Big Ten, it only takes so long before the bruises really add up.
Montee Ball: Before, I was a bruiser. Now, I still want to be a bruiser because I know I still can, but I want to try and make more people miss. That's what the coaches tell me what I need to do and that's for sure what I need to do.
Badger Nation: What was the enlightening moment last season when you realized that you can play at this level and be successful?
Montee Ball: Probably the Ohio State game when I came in late and got a couple of receptions and a few yards. I had a nice little run, too, so I felt pretty confident after that game that I could play college football. I think I got settled in during Iowa game when I scored my first touchdown. After that, all the relief is gone. I loved it and I wanted to do it again and get right back at it.
Badger Nation: The spring is a going time for a major change like your running style. What else are you trying to change and get used to?
Montee Ball: I think playing faster and more urgency. That's another thing the coaches told me to do was play with urgency and I'll be better at things I do. I'll actually look faster playing that way. Badger Nation: How are you and the playbook?
Montee Ball: I have the whole thing down. I really studied it last year and over the summer sometimes. I studied it hard. Coach Settle said that he could tell that I have to playbook down, but now I need to master it. That's what I am working on now – that and figuring out what the offensive line does and who they block.