When Montee Ball was tearing up rushing records at Timberland High School in Wentzville, Mo, it was pretty obvious he was something special. With over 8,000 yards rushing and 107 touchdowns, Ball seemed destined to become a big-time football player. Yet his bruising, between-the-tackles style and his 5-foot-10-inch frame didn't seem to go together.
That "bowling ball" style fit perfectly at the University of Wisconsin, where Ball went on to break Ron Dayne's Big Ten touchdown record and gain over 5,000 yards on the ground. Opposing defenders trying to stop Ball commented that he was often difficult to find behind his massive offensive linemen. By the time Ball emerged, he had a head of steam and was usually delivering the hit, not receiving it.
The Denver Broncos, who originated converting non-first round running backs into All-Pros with Terrell Davis, saw much they liked in Ball and made him their second round draft pick in this past April's draft. Now Ball is locked in a battle with second year pro, Ronnie Hillman, for the starting job in Peyton Manning's backfield.
To this point, Hillman has taken the majority of the carries. But Hillman's struggles to hold onto the football (he fumbled twice last week in Seattle) may have given Ball the opening he needs to grab control of the starting position.
Ball will get his chance to shine, ironically, against the hometown heroes of his youth, the St. Louis Rams. Ball should get plenty of carries in the first half against the Rams' starters. Last week, St. Louis struggled to bring down another rookie back, Eddie Lacy of the Packers.
If Ball has similar success against the Rams, he could be named the Broncos' starter for their week one matchup against the Baltimore Ravens.
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