Wisconsin Badgers Football: Can James White Replace the Production of Montee Ball?

By Barry Leonard Jr
James White Wisconsin Badgers
Richard Mackson – USA Today Sports

James White enters 2013 with the unenviable task of replacing Montee Ball at running back for the Wisconsin Badgers. Fortunately for the Badgers, White is both talented and experienced, and the offense shouldn’t skip a beat with him stepping into the starting role.

Ball, who will now be playing on Sundays, had a fantastic season in 2012, rushing for 1,830 yards and 22 touchdowns. He finished his Wisconsin career with 5,140 rushing yards and also set the FBS record for most career touchdowns with 77.

There’s no doubt the Badgers will miss that production. However, with White now taking over the starting job, the running game shouldn’t miss a beat. He’s a talented runner who can also be split out in a formation to give different looks to the defense.

White has already shown an ability to put up solid numbers and will now look to take a step forward in 2013.

The senior running back is no stranger to the spotlight as he burst onto the scene as a freshman in 2010. That season, he played in 12 games and rushed for 1,052 and 14 touchdowns, including four in one game against Austin Peay. His 6.74 yards per carry that year is second-best in school history.

However despite a successful freshman year, Ball overtook him on the depth chart in 2011 and ran over 300 times his final two seasons, causing White to take a backseat in the Wisconsin backfield. Playing the role of backup, White was still able to show his ability as a runner. He rushed for 713 yards in 2011 and 806 yards last year. He also found the end zone 12 times in 2012.

Entering 2013, White will be the clear-cut starter. However, he’s never had to be an every-down back. His career-high in carries came during his freshman year when he ran the ball 156 times. He will likely be spelled this year by another talented back in Melvin Gordon.

It’s unfair to expect White to have the same record-setting production as Ball, as he likely won’t see the same amount of carries. However, it’s not unrealistic to think he will put up stellar numbers. Something around 1,200 yards and 15 touchdowns is well within reach for the senior.


Barry Leonard Jr. is a Big 10  Football Writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter  @barryleonardjr, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your  network on Google.

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