Wisconsin opened spring practices this month with Montee Ball watching nearby - an odd experience for someone who had been a fixture in the Badgers' backfield since 2009.
As senior tailback James White zipped through a tiny gap in the offensive line and sped toward the end zone in team drills, it became clear that Wisconsin may be just fine with Ball gone after a standout career.
''We're going to come out and still compete each and every day,'' White said. ''Now all of us have an opportunity to show it.
Ball's performance during the past two seasons overshadowed the depth the Badgers had in the backfield, especially with Ball totaling 5,738 all-purpose and an NCAA-record 83 career touchdowns in his four-year career. Last season, Ball won the Doak Walker Award given to college football's top running back after finishing the season with 1,830 rushing yards and 22 rushing touchdowns.
But in the early going of the first spring under new coach ...