MADISON, Wis. -- Detectives investigating an assault that left star Wisconsin running back Montee Ball with a concussion have identified "several persons of interest" and believe the altercation may be related to a fight five days earlier, Madison police said Saturday.
Investigators determined that a fight occurred late on July 27 and into the morning of July 28 involving Wisconsin students, members of the football team and others, according to a police statement. Ball was present but there is no indication he participated in the fight, police said.
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One person was injured during that fight and was treated at a hospital.
Five days later, five men roughed up Ball near campus. Ball was walking down a street Wednesday around 2:15 a.m. after "socializing" with friends, police said. Two friends walking ahead of him turned around and saw Ball on the ground. The men had surrounded him and were kicking him in the head and chest.
"Although Montee Ball was assaulted on a public street, this incident does not fit the pattern of random violence that we have seen in recent weeks in downtown Madison," Madison police Chief Noble Wray said in a statement.
The area where Ball was attacked is on the edge of the Wisconsin campus and features multiple bars. Police have been dealing with what they say are combative crowds in the area all summer.
Ball, a Heisman Trophy finalist last season as a junior, suffered a concussion that will keep him out of practice when camp starts Monday.
"With success, will come many haters And completely fabricated stories!! I will stick to what I've been doing since day 1 (hash) eyesontheprize," Ball tweeted Friday evening.
Police said detectives were following up on leads developed through interviews and "available video evidence."
"Several UW football players have been interviewed, and we have received full cooperation from the athletics department (and) all players including Montee Ball," the police statement said.
Ball scored 39 touchdowns last season, tying Barry Sanders' NCAA record. He finished the year with 1,923 yards rushing and 2,229 all-purpose yards, second in Wisconsin history only to Ron Dayne's 2,242 yards in 1996. Ball capped the season by rushing for 164 yards and a touchdown in the Badgers' 45-38 loss to Oregon in the Rose Bowl.
He announced days after the bowl game he would return for his senior season after NFL evaluators told him he likely would have been a third-round pick.
The Badgers open practice Monday. The season opener is Sept. 1 at home against Northern Iowa. Coach Bret Bielema has said he expects Ball will make a full recovery.