Much has been written about tight end/wide receiver Cornelius Ingram’s near-transfer after the 2005 season. He was talked out of leaving by family members and the former face of Florida football, cornerback Vernell Brown.
What’s forgotten is the fact that another Gainesville-area player and close friend, fullback Eric Rutledge, was set to head out with Ingram. I talked to Rutledge shortly after the 2005 season and he said he and Ingram were planning to transfer to South Florida, where Ingram
would attempt to revive his basketball career and continue playing
Ingram changed his mind and then so did Rutledge.
Two years later, Ingram is on the cusp of stardom. In fact, if he has a big junior year as many are expecting, he’ll probably be in the NFL a year from now.
Things haven’t turned out nearly as good for Rutledge. One reason Rutledge was contemplating a transfer two years ago was that he appeared to be stuck on special teams with little chance of seeing significant playing time at fullback. Well, things haven’t change.
Rutledge is still toiling on special teams and now he’s almost a man without a position. He’s playing H-back, which is kind of a hybrid fullback/tight end. And with so many skilled receivers on this team (including Ingram), it doesn’t look like the H-back is going to be in the game very often this season.
When Urban Meyer was asked the other day to compare Rutledge to Billy Latsko, last year’s starting fullback, he elected not to because the players are so different and the Gators aren’t really using a true fullback in the spread.
Another thing holding back Rutledge in the preseason is that he reported to camp at 250 pounds, probably 10 pounds more than his ideal playing weight, and he’s trying to play himself into shape.
Ingram has stated he has no regrets about staying at UF, where he’s never appeared happier. You have to wonder if Rutledge wishes he’d made the move to USF two years ago.