Hawthorne High honors UF's Ingram
Published: Wednesday, January 31, 2007 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 31, 2007 at 12:00 a.m.
HAWTHORNE — Residents of Hawthorne packed the high school gym on Tuesday night to honor one of their own.
Florida sophomore tight end Cornelius Ingram came back to his alma mater for a ceremony recognizing his achievements with the National Championship football team.
"To be honest, I really didn't know what emotions I'd be going through," Ingram said. "With so much support that I've had throughout my high school career with the people at Hawthorne, it's been unbelievable. I just wanted to make sure I stayed calm and try not to get too emotional."
Hawthorne retired Ingram's football jersey, which is the same number he wears at Florida — No. 7. Athletic director B.J. Horne said the school plans to retire his basketball jersey at the end of the season as well. Ingram is the first player in Hawthorne history to have his jersey retired.
"I definitely consider it an honor," Ingram said. "Like I said, there's a lot of guys that came up before me that just didn't have the opportunity. It felt real good, it's probably one of the most special days of my life."
"Not only is he a great athlete, but he's a great young man," Horne added. "It makes the whole community feel proud that he's a Hawthorne product."
During his speech, Ingram thanked God, his family, coaches and friends. He also thanked the people of Hawthorne, who supported him when things weren't going his way.
Ingram said his first few years at UF were hard, because he wasn't getting to play much. But the people of Hawthorne continued to support Ingram, which had a big influence on his decision to remain at Florida.
"I was on the verge of leaving, but it worked out, because whenever I came home, they showed me support," Ingram said. "All the support helped me and gave me motivation to succeed even more."
Ingram earned some impressive accolades during his time at Hawthorne. He ranks fourth on the state's all-time scoring list in boys basketball, with 3,252 points. As a junior and senior, Ingram was the Sun's overall athlete of the year, the only player to earn the distinction twice. He was also the Florida Dairy Farmers 2A player of the year twice. Ingram finished his sophomore season at Florida with 380 receiving yards and a touchdown on 30 catches. Ten of those receptions came in the SEC and BCS championship games.
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