University of Wisconsin senior running back Montee Ball fully expects to play at Nebraska on Saturday, despite suffering a second concussion in less than eight weeks.
"Do I think I'm playing?" Ball said after practice on Tuesday. "Yeah, I'm going to play. No doubt."
Ball has yet to be cleared by doctors, but he did some running and conditioning in full uniform. He thinks he will be wearing a green non-contact jersey by Wednesday's practice and expects to be fully cleared by game time.
He suffered what he said was the third concussion during his football career on a 1-yard touchdown run early in the second quarter of the 37-26 win over UTEP on Saturday. It was the second blow he took to the helmet in the game, also suffering one on the play he fumbled in the first quarter.
It was the second hit to the head that left Ball feeling "dizzy" but exhibiting few of the other concussion symptoms. In fact, Ball is not convinced he suffered a concussion, saying the medical staff was being cautious in keeping him out of the game.
"I passed a few physical exams in the back room," he said. "They pretty much were like, 'We have other running backs.' I think at the time the score was 23-6. It was like, 'There's no reason to throw you back out there right now.' "
Ball said he also passed the cognitive tests he took on Sunday morning and experienced no issue with headaches.
"I really don't think I was concussed, I think I was just a little dizzy, a little stunned after the hit," he said. "But I feel fine right now."
Ball has no reservations about playing, despite the frequency of the last two concussions. He suffered what he described as a much more severe concussion after being assaulted by several men on Aug. 1; three have been charged with substantial battery.
"If I'm cleared to play, I'm going to play," Ball said. "I don't want to sit out for this game."
Ball wasn't trying to sound cavalier about the health risks involved. He knows this could impact his NFL future.
"Hopefully, it doesn't become a problem or an issue," he said. "Pretty much all I can do right now is hope and pray it doesn't."
One thing that assured Ball is when the doctor told him waiting an extra week or two after being cleared to play would not alter his chances of having another concussion.
"What the doctor said is, it doesn't really matter how long you wait, if you pass all of the exams," Ball said. "Having two concussions, you're possibly prone to having another one. So, he said basically I have to make sure I stay on top of the symptoms and basically tell the truth."
Ball suffered his first concussion in the second quarter at Michigan State last season. He left the game briefly but returned in the second half.
He said he hasn't discussed the issue of whether he should play with his parents, but expects to speak to them about it soon. He said his parents put their faith in the team's medical staff, which he is doing as well.
"Obviously, I really do care about my safety," Ball said. "Once the doctors ... told me (waiting longer doesn't make a difference), I was like, I guess that kind of does make sense. I think they're doing a great job, really taking care of us players."