Ingram adjusting to pro life


Cornelius Ingram sprints during 2009 Pro Scout Day at University of Florida's Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville Wednesday, March 18, 2009.

DOUG FINGER/Staff Photographer
Published: Monday, July 6, 2009 at 12:49 p.m.
Last Modified: Monday, July 6, 2009 at 12:49 p.m.

Cornelius Ingram grew up in the outskirts of Gainesville in Hawthorne and traveled right down the road to play football at Florida. Now, as a professional athlete, he’s having to navigate a whole new area while adjusting to life on his own.

But like so many passes from Chris Leak and Tim Tebow, Ingram is catching on.

“It’s definitely different,” Ingram said from the stands of a charity basketball game featuring several former Gators in Lake City last month. “But I’ve been working so much with the team in offseason stuff, I haven’t really even been able to look around much yet.”

Ingram, now a member of the Philadelphia Eagles, entered the league a little differently than he expected. He missed last season after tearing the ACL in his left knee before the Gators could play a game and knew that his draft stock would slip a bit. Projected by many experts to be a second — or third-round selection, Ingram waited two days to hear his name called in the fifth round, No. 153 overall, by the Eagles.

With the knee healthy, he came into Philadelphia’s rookie camp and impressed the coaches instantly. It paid off in the form of a reported four-year, $1.9 million contract signed on the day he turned 24 years old.

But Ingram insists his draft-day slide hasn’t placed a chip on his shoulder.

“I told myself that I wasn’t going to start off like that, because I feel like everything happens for a reason,” he said. “I don’t want to go out and put so much pressure on myself to do something that I wasn’t used to doing.

“My whole mindset was to be relaxed when I started my first camp and make sure I get better. I didn’t want to do something crazy like re-injuring my knee because I was trying to impress someone.”

The knee, which some NFL teams had red-flagged as a possible problem, leading to his drop on the draft board, hasn’t given Ingram any problems through his summer training, he said. That’s allowed him to focus on getting back onto the field and doing the things that had him once projected as a first-round pick.

“I’ve been catching on really good with the offense,” he said. “I’ve had the opportunity to be in there and get a lot of reps. My knee has been healthy the entire time. I’ve been getting better every day. I can see that I’m making strides and I feel real good about where I’m at right now.”

“This summer has just been about getting back out there and getting back into doing the little things like fundamentals, running and catching. Everything else has been fine.”

Ingram will once again be tested when rookies report to Eagles’ training camp at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pa., on July 26. That will be another scenery change in a summer full of changes for Ingram, who says he hasn’t spent much of his reported $183,000 signing bonus, but has plans to buy “something big” really soon. He wouldn’t hint as to what it was.

In the meantime, the Florida native continues to adjust to life in what seems like a whole new world. Ingram spoke briefly at the charity game with former-Gator basketball player Marreese Speights, who spent his youth in Florida before being drafted by the Philadelphia 76ers last season. He had some advice for Ingram that should help ease the transition.

“He’s going to like it there,” Speights said. “It’s a great city with great fans, but the best part is that they got some great food up there.”

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