Ingram puts focus on blocking
Published: Thursday, April 3, 2008 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, April 4, 2008 at 12:08 a.m.
Every time Cornelius Ingram comes off the practice field, he's mobbed by eager fans looking for an autograph and or a photograph.
He barely completes sentences during interviews because of the constant requests from fans as he makes the slow trek to the UF locker room below Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.
The humble redshirt junior attributes his local upbringing, not his recent on-the-field success, to his popularity.
“I'm a local guy, so I kind of have an advantage, especially during the spring when we have open practices,” said the former Hawthorne athlete. “It allows a lot of people to come out.”
Ingram also said his decision to turn down the NFL draft is another reason for his growing celebrity status.
Shortly after the conclusion of UF's season Ingram declared for the draft, but after a few days rescinded his decision.
Receivers coach Billy Gonzales said Ingram's decision to come back was purely self-motivated. The staff did confront him about his future, but ultimately left the decision to him and his family. Gonzales said a major factor in Ingram's decision was to leave UF with a college degree.
“After this semester, CI's only three credits away from getting a college degree,” Gonzales said. “That's something that meant a ton to him. … He's going to help himself out obviously by coming back and continue to improve. It doesn't take a genius to know that, but the biggest thing for CI was (he could) come back and help this team, help (himself) improve as a football player and more importantly get a college degree.”
Ingram said he doesn't regret his decision to stay for his senior season and is taking the opportunity to learn his third position since arriving at UF as a quarterback in 2004. Ingram, who played the last two seasons as a receiver/tight end, is now settling in as a fulltime tight end.
Ingram, who caught 34 passes for 508 yards and tied for first on the team with seven touchdowns, now must become more of a blocker to help open up UF's offense more this fall.
“The majority of (his) time has been with (tight ends/assistant offensive line) coach (John) Hevesy, working attached (to the line of scrimmage) and if he can be attached in the run game then it opens up so much more for us and what we can do offensively,” Gonzales said. “It's making him a better player, making him tougher because he's understanding exactly what's going on.
“CI's done a great job. He's 240 pounds right now. Probably has right about five percent body fat, if that.”
Blocking was something Ingram told his coaches he needed improvement in and headed into spring with the idea of helping his team by doing more than just catching passes.
“To be honest, (blocking's) my whole mind-set,” Ingram said. “As of right now, I know I can catch the ball. I know I can run routes. I figured it's almost natural that when someone needs to work on anything, of course it's a weakness and (blocking) was one of my weaknesses. That was my whole motive this spring, to be honest. I told coach (Urban) Meyer it really didn't matter if I caught a ball this whole spring.”
Gonzales said Ingram's athleticism won't be limited to coming off the line. He will be used as a receiver who could not only see carries from the backfield, but could get a few chances to show off his arm again.
That became evident in Saturday's scrimmage when he took a reverse and threw to a wide-open Tim Tebow in the end zone. Unfortunately, the Heisman-winning quarterback did not make the catch.
“I actually threw a great ball,” Ingram said. “I gotta be honest with you, that was the best ball thrown all day (Saturday). It hit him in the hands.
“I said, ‘Come on T. You gotta give me the (catch).’ But it's all love. Not on purpose, but I drop some of his balls. He throws a lot more than I do, so I wish he had just caught that one for me.”
Reader comments posted to this article may be published in our print edition. All rights reserved. This copyrighted material may not be re-published without permission. Links are encouraged.
Comments are currently unavailable on this article