As soon as running back Montee Ball sat down and watched tapes of the University of Wisconsin football team's offense, he knew it was the place he wanted to go.
"Their style of offense is the style of offense I was looking for," said Ball, who is from Wentzville, Mo. "They have huge linemen, they pound the ball, pound the ball — but they also throw the ball, too. It's a balanced offense and that's what I like."
That's why Ball, who initially thought he was going to wait until December to choose a school, ended up making his decision over the weekend.
He gave an oral commitment to the Badgers after an unofficial visit on Friday. His other two finalists were Missouri and Kansas.
Asked what comes to mind when he thinks of Wisconsin running backs, Ball said, "workhorses."
That certainly fits when it comes to the 5-foot-11, 210-pound Ball, who rushed for 4,922 yards on 655 carries (7.5 average) and 46 touchdowns the past two seasons for Timberland High School in suburban St. Louis.
"Very durable kid (with) big-play ability," Timberland coach Craig Collins said. "He's a guy we built our team around the last couple years."
Ball ran the 40-yard dash in 4.44 seconds at one combine, but most recruiting services list him at 4.5. He makes a living between the tackles, but after working with a personal trainer the past three years, he also became a breakaway threat last season.
"He's your typical Wisconsin-type running back," Collins said. "I think it's a great fit for them. Between-the-tackles type of guy, but he's got good ability to sidestep safeties and good ability to run over people, too.
"Has a great forward lean when he runs. This (past) year, he really showed the ability to break away, which accounts for the big numbers."
Ball rushed for 3,077 yards on 358 carries (8.6 average) and scored 31 touchdowns as a junior. He also caught four passes for 121 yards and a touchdown, helping his team finish 10-2 and advance to the Class 4 quarterfinals.
He is a good student, with a 3.4 grade-point average and already has a qualifying test score. He was recruited by UW defensive coordinator Dave Doeren.
"I've been talking to (Doeren) for about two months now," Ball said. "We already have a strong relationship going. When I went up there and visited, we sat down by the lake and just talked about the place, talked about what I was looking for, talked about my major — business — and all that stuff. We're going to be pretty good together."
That should be good news for UW fans who might remember an early oral commitment a year ago from wide receiver Wes Kemp, who was considered the top recruit in St. Louis at the time.
Missouri never gave up on Kemp and he de-committed from the Badgers and signed with the Tigers. Even though Missouri has had a lot of recent success keeping the state's top players at home, it's a different case with Ball, who doesn't seem a good fit for the Tigers' spread offense.
For now, at least, Ball doesn't see much chance of changing his mind.
"Nope, because when I sat down and watched the film with (running backs) coach (John) Settle, their offense is exactly the style offense we run here at my school," Ball said. "I'm basically moving into the same offense, which is going to be really comfortable."