After running a discouraging 4.66 40-yard dash at the NFL scouting combine last month, ranking him 19th out of 33 tested backs, Montee Ball
spent the next several weeks working with Wisconsin
assistant strength coaches Jamil Walker and John Denman on his start.
"The first 10 yards is the whole 40," said Ball. "Getting that down, you'll be able to cut the other times down."
Cut down he did, as an elated Ball ran between a 4.46 and 4.53 in the 40-yard dash at UW's pro timing day on Wednesday. If Ball had run that in Indianapolis, his time would have been the third fastest among tested tailbacks.
"I was disappointed with (the 4.66) because I knew I was faster than that," said Ball. "I think I proved that today, that I am faster than the 4.66 I ran at Indy."
Ball attributed his slower 40-yard dash time to a variety of factors. For starters he was on medicine for a sinus infection he came down with two days before the testing. He also was weary from all the interviews and medical tests being performed on him and was able to get adequate rest.
That's why he focused on nothing but his 40-yard dash and resting his legs once returning to Madison in preparation for his own workouts.
"I really had my mindset of the 40-yard dash," said Ball. "Also show them, up close and personal, that I can play football. I can cut, hit the cones and catch the football."
Ball also ran a 4.11 in the short shuttle (he ran a 4.40 at the combine). He skipped the bench press, happy with his 15 repetitions he did in Indianapolis, and did the long shuttle at the request of Green Bay general manager Ted Thompson. The duo spoke privately afterwards.
"He just talked about all the good stuff I've been doing on tape," said Ball. "He says I know how to play football, I've been doing the right things and he's very excited about me."
A Heisman finalist in 2011 after tying Barry Sanders' NCAA record with 39 touchdowns (33 rushing, six receiving) on the season and leading the country in rushing with 1,923 yards as a junior, Ball made the selfless decision of returning for his senior season after the NFL advisory board projected him to be a third-round draft pick.
Despite suffering two concussions before conference play and dealing with massive transition on the offensive line and the quarterback spot, Ball still managed to rush for 1,830 yards and 22 touchdowns. He earned the Doak Walker award as the nation's top running back and became the NCAA's career touchdown leader with 83 scores.
"I think (waiting a season) really helped me out and I am really glad I made that decision," said Ball. "I think it's going to help me out."
Already showing his consistency (he scored at least one touchdown in 21-straight games), Ball showed with his speed that he's got the ability to be a NFL impact player.
"I think I've shown it with my tape and what I am capable of doing with my feet and my agility times, able to catch the football and make cuts," said Ball, who will continue to work out in Madison as he prepares for April's draft.
"It's been crazy in a good way. I've been all over the place. I am most definitely enjoyed it. Not a lot of people can say they are going through this process."
Focused on nothing but the 40-yard dash and resting his body, former Wisconsin tailback Montee Ball shaves two tenths of a second off his 40-yard dash time at Wednesday's UW pro timing day, putting him in prime position for April's NFL draft.
Doak Walker award winner improves his 40-yard dash time by two tenths at UW pro day