Ingram, Murphy drafted
Published: Monday, April 27, 2009 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, April 26, 2009 at 3:37 p.m.
The call came much later than he would have liked Sunday, but it did come, so Florida tight end Cornelius Ingram is not complaining.
Everything is good.
The former Hawthorne High star's knee is strong, his mind is right, and now the Philadelphia Eagles are giving him the opportunity to pursue his NFL dream.
"I'm happy with the opportunity that I have," Ingram said. "This is a perfect situation for me and a great fit.
"I know some teams might have thought my knee wasn't 100 percent because I came back so early. But I've shown my knee is healthy throughout Pro Day, the Combine and even private workouts. I'm just happy and blessed to be in the position I'm in right now."
After a long wait at his family's home in Hawthorne on Saturday and again on Sunday, Ingram finally got the call he was expecting when the Eagles drafted him in the fifth round with the 153rd overall selection in the draft. UF wide receiver Louis Murphy also was drafted Sunday, taken by the Oakland Raiders in the fourth round.
The consensus is that Ingram would have gone much higher in the draft if he was not coming off ACL knee surgery last summer that sidelined him for the 2008 season. ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper said Sunday that Ingram likely would have been a second-round pick if he'd been healthy and played this past season.
"I think it was just more so coming back so fast," Ingram said. "I can really go out and say that had to be the only thing that scared teams away from me.
"I know I could have been drafted higher. I know what I can do on the field. My knee, and coming back so early, scared some teams. But it's not anything I'm crying about."
Ingram said his knee is 100 percent and he'll be on the field with his new teammates this weekend for a three-day Eagles' mini-camp in Philadelphia.
"Definitely," said the 6-foot-4, 246-pound Ingram. "Missing last season made me realize a lot of stuff. I learned never to take anything for granted. Always be appreciative to whatever you have going on in your life, even if it's not football.
"I'm definitely ready to go out there. This has made me a hungrier person. Me being passed over. ... I'm just ready to get started."
Because of his pass-catching skills and considerable up side, Ingram could be one of the steals of the draft if he stays healthy.
Ingram said Philadelphia is a comfortable fit for him. It's one of the league's most successful teams, and the Eagles are looking to upgrade the offensive supporting cast around quarterback Donovan McNabb and running back Brian Westbrook.
"You have to respect what's going on in Philly," Ingram said. "What can you say. They have a Hall-of-Famer playing quarterback and everything is basically in place.
"I'm used to winning and being around a winning program. That's all coach (Urban) Meyer teaches. That's the most important thing. That's what the Eagles do. They win and are always in the running to compete for championships. I know they'll continue to win because of all the great players and great coaches they have."
Ingram had a chance to enter the draft a year ago, but decided to turn it down in an attempt to improve his overall game and draft status. He appeared on his way before tearing his ACL during preseason camp in August.
The work he did last spring, especially on his blocking, probably helped him in this draft.
"The main reason I cam back was I wanted to get better," Ingram said. "Coach Meyer told me NFL teams want the tight end to block. That spring, that's all I did.
"We run the spread and teams weren't used to seeing me being a traditional tight end. That's all I did the entire spring. I had a chance to give teams that film, and they really watched it. I was attached (to the offensive line) and I blocked a lot more. That's what they wanted to see."
The first Gator drafted Sunday was Murphy, who was selected by the Oakland Raiders with the 24th pick in the fourth round and the 124th overall pick.
Murphy's strength is his speed and ability to go deep, and the Raiders have a reputation for throwing the deep ball.
"I feel good," Murphy said. "A lot of offenses in the NFL really fit my style of play. But the Raiders are a perfect fit. I can't wait to get going.
"I thought I might go higher than the fourth round, but that doesn't matter. Like I told people in the NFL (before the draft), I don't care if I go in the first round or the seventh, I just want to have chance to play pro football, and now I have it."
Murphy said his goal is to change the perception that Florida receivers have not been a good fit in the NFL over the last few decades.
"I love the University of Florida," he said. "I had a great four years there and I'm always going to come back. I'm going to work hard and represent the University of Florida well. A lot of people say Florida receivers usually don't make it. I'm going to work as hard as I can and make Florida proud."
In his UF career, Murphy caught 77 passes for 1,245 yards and 13 touchdowns. Some draft analysts said Murphy had second-round talent, but that his inconsistent hands probably would slot him later in the draft.
"It's just concentration," Murphy said. "I've got good hands. It's something I've really been working hard on. I'm just eager to get out there and get to work and show the Raiders what I can do."
Contact Robbie Andreu at 374-5022 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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