In the extensive storied history of Alabama Crimson Tide football, it is hard to believe they've just now brought the Heisman Memorial Trophy back to Tuscaloosa, and have sophomore running back Mark Ingram to thank for that. The closest Heisman voting in its' seventy-five year history, Ingram beat out Stanford's Toby Gerhart by just 28 points and became the first Crimson Tide football player to earn the award. For the rest of America whose been sleeping on Mark Ingram this Fall, I'm 'bout to fill you (w)in.
The Flint, Michigan native did exactly what Heisman voters want; perform at the highest level on the biggest stage. In the SEC Championship, with some of the nations top collegiate football players on the same field, no one stood out more than Mark Ingram. Into the endzone three times, Ingram rushed for 113 yards on 28 carries. However, this isn't the first time Ingram put it to an opposing defense on the big stage. To kick-off the season, the Alabama running back shredded a Virginia Tech defense which would finish the regular season as the nations #14th ranked defense. Way back on September 5th, Ingram rushed for 150 yards and scored both a rushing and receiving touchdown against the Hokies. From wire to wire, whether it be 246 yards against South Carolina or 149 yards and two touchdowns against Mississippi State, Mark Ingram has time and again ran through tough defenses on the biggest of stages.
#22 Is the National Championship. The Crimson Tide are 13-0 and headed to Pasadena as the #1 team in the every poll imaginable. They have a great defense which for the first time in his career made Florida's Tim Tebow look human last Saturday. The gameplan was to make Tebow sit on the sideline and keep him off the turf. That wouldn't have been possible if not for #22 and his four yards per carry. Between Ingram and quarterback Greg McElroy, they marched down the field time and again wearing out the clock and ripping up the Georgia Dome turf. Now the National Championship awaits the Crimson Tide, and it is hard to argue they'd be there if not for what Ingram has accomplished this season, and not just during the SEC Championship. The Heisman Trophy has become an award given to the nations best player on a team headed to the title game, that isn't what it is meant to be, but it is what it has become. That being said, Ingram is headed to the National Championship game, and he's the anchor of his 13-0 team. He is the National Championship and the country will again get to see him in the spotlight.
After hearing his Heisman speech, the country was on board. His acceptance speech was one for the books. Tears on his face, thanking everyone from his offensive line to Alabama interns, Ingram was memorable. Here's a kid who truly represents collegiate football, hard working, focused, and dedicated to the aspect of being part of a team. Polished quarterbacks like McCoy & Tebow would most likely have given us the usual collected speeches, not this heart driven, thankful speech that Mark Ingram turned out. He thanked teachers, when is the last time you heard that from a Heisman winner? There are many times in sports we don't truly appreciate an athlete till they retire, or till they win a title, but Mark Ingram will be appreciated right now. A 1,500-yard rusher who turned the ball over just once, Ingram defines outstanding play, and to be an athlete we can root for, (given recent unmentioned events) that is special. From recent winners Sam Bradford and Tim Tebow, comes Mark Ingram, what seems like a quiet leader but toughest of players. I would have ripped up my vote for Toby Gerhart in a second if I had the opportunity to see Ingram speech before hand. The player is a great person.
Roll 'Tide Roll, hats off to Alabama running back and Heisman Trophy winner, Mark Ingram.