Despite his late surge onto the forefront of the Heisman Trophy debate, Montee Ball will not be Wisconsin’s third running back to bring the 25-pound bronze trophy back to Madison.
Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III became the 77th winner of the Heisman on ESPN’s live broadcast of the award’s presentation Saturday night, finishing with 405 first-place votes and 1,687 total points.
Shortly after he was announced as one of the five finalists for the trophy on Dec. 5, Ball told The Badger Herald he would not be disappointed if the award went to someone else.
“That’s enough for me right there, just making it, just sitting next to all the great players in the country,” he said.
Ball finished fourth in the voting with 22 first-place votes and 348 points. Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck finished second with 247 first-place votes and 1,407 points while Alabama running back Trent Richardson finished third with 138 first-place votes and 978 points.
Louisiana State cornerback Tyrann Mathieu, the last of the finalists present at the ceremony, finished fifth with 34 first-place votes and 327 points.
Former Wisconsin running back and the 1999 Heisman winner Ron Dayne was among those in the audience Saturday, along with UW head coach Bret Bielema and Ball’s parents.
Alan Ameche is the other Badger back to have taken home the award — back in 1954.
Including his performance in the Big Ten Championship Game, Ball led the nation with 1,759 rushing yards and, with the Rose Bowl Game still to be played, rests one touchdown shy of breaking Barry Sanders’ single-season touchdown record of 39.
“[I] just made sure I soaked it in, talked to my parents, teared up a little bit because it was a dream come true,” Ball said during the broadcast about when he was announced as a finalist.
However, Ball’s numbers were not enough to wrest college football’s highest honor away from Griffin, who led the country with a 192.3 passer efficiency rating while throwing for 3,998 yards and 36 touchdown passes and completing 77 percent of his passes.
Although there was no clear favorite to win the award, Griffin was considered by many to be the most likely candidate to win the trophy.
Just after the winner was announced, Ball joined the other four finalists in congratulating Griffin with hugs and enthusiastic applause.
“This moment right here, it’s unbelievably believable,” Griffin said in his acceptance speech. “It’s unbelievable because in the moment we’re all amazed when great things happen. But it’s believable because great things don’t happen without hard work.”