Senior running back Montee Ball will not be ready for the start of preseason football camp on Monday, University of Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema said on Thursday morning during a taping of the show "Sidelines," at the WISC-TV studios.
Ball suffered a concussion on Wednesday morning in what Madison police called an "unprovoked assault." According to witnesses, five men attacked Ball while he was walking in the 500 block of University Avenue.
Bielema gave no indication Ball would have any long-term issues and said the situation would provide at least two benefits: It would give the other running backs more snaps in practice, while giving Bielema a chance to limit Ball's exposure to hits -- which is something Bielema was looking to do anyway.
Running back is one of the deepest positions on the team. Junior James White is the backup, and even though he missed the end of spring practices with a minor knee injury, coaches are looking for ways to get him on the field.
The same goes for redshirt freshman Melvin Gordon, who Ball predicted has a chance to be a great player.
"He's going to be a great player," Ball said last week in Chicago. "I told him that about 21/2 to 3 weeks ago. I talked to him and I was like, 'If you stay focused and study the playbook and actually dive all of the way into what the coaches are telling you, you're going to be an unbelievable player.' "
Sophomore Jeff Lewis, who was slowed in the spring by a hamstring injury, and freshman Vonte Jackson, who enrolled early and is returning from a torn ACL suffered a year ago, are also in the crowded backfield position.