Cornelius Ingram #82 TE
Height: 6-4 Weight: 250 Age: 28
Born: 6/10/1985 Hawthorne , FL
Experience: 2nd season
Selected By: Philadelphia Eagles
Pick (Overall): 17 (153)
Based on his performance at the NFL Combine, it is safe to assume that Ingram is well on the road to full recovery from the left knee torn anterior cruciate ligament he suffered in fall camp that sidelined him for the entire 2008 season. It was a bittersweet year for the former quarterback, as he observed from the sidelines as his Gators captured the national championship.
Considered to be the best athlete in the football program, it was a long road for Ingram, as he was constantly switching positions during his first few years at Florida before finding a home at tight end. He arrived on campus as a heralded prep quarterback and even joined the school's renowned basketball program in 2004.
At Hawthorne High School, Ingram was rated a four-star athlete and the 11th-best quarterback prospect in the nation by TheInsiders.com and was a member of that recruiting service's Hot 100 list. He also was listed as a four-star athlete and a Top 100 pick by Rivals.com, who rated him the third-best quarterback prospect, in addition to placing him on their Southeast Elite 88 list.
Ingram was ranked as the best quarterback and overall player on the GatorCountry.com Top 101 list. The two-time Class 1A All-State selection in both football and basketball, he threw for more than 1,400 yards and 22 touchdowns in 2003. For the hoops squad, he averaged more than 25 points per game as a shooting guard during his junior season.
In 2004, Ingram enrolled at Florida, turning down scholarship offers from Florida State, South Florida, Georgia, Georgia Tech and North Carolina during the recruiting process. The 206-pound passer impressed the staff by running a 4.5 40-yard dash during fall camp, but he would spend the year with the scout team. He later joined the 2004-05 Gators basketball squad, playing in 19 games as a shooting guard before returning to football for spring drills.
After playing in just two games during the 2005 football season, where he lined up as a receiver and at quarterback, the youngster told coach Urban Meyer in January 2006 that he wanted to quit. Suddenly, the kid from Hawthorne who had come to Gainesville with so much promise as a two-sport star -- the agile and athletic quarterback and big-time basketball player -- was gone.
It took Vernell Brown to bring him back. Brown was a senior defensive back that season whom Meyer dubbed the "face of Florida football." In Ingram's case, Brown also was the voice of Florida football. ''If it wasn't for Vernell, I'd be gone,'' Ingram said. "I was out the door. That was it.''
The coaching staff knew they had to figure a way to get their talented athlete more playing time. The former quarterback became a full-time wide receiver in 2006. Ingram was used as a slot receiver/H-back hybrid, allowing the now 6-foot-4, 230-pound redshirt sophomore to create mismatches in the secondary. "I see him more as a receiver [than a tight end]," Meyer said. "He's extremely talented. We have a nice package for him."
"I've been telling everybody this is the most fun I've had since I've been here," Ingram said. "The coaches did a great job giving me an opportunity during the spring to make plays." He started twice while appearing in 14 games, finishing fifth on the team with 30 receptions for 380 yards (12.7 avg) and a touchdown.
Now up to 245 pounds, Ingram shifted to tight end in 2007. He saw action in 13 games, including five starting assignments. He hauled down 34 passes, good for fourth on the team, as he totaled 508 yards (14.9 avg) with seven touchdowns. After the season, he declared that he would forgo his senior year and entered the 2008 NFL Draft. However, he later had a change of heart and returned to the school.
Ingram had a sensational spring camp and was primed to have a breakout season in 2008 for the Gators. However, early in August camp, he suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee and had to miss the season. "It's the hardest part of the game, the hardest part of coaching. The hardest part of playing," Meyer said of Ingram's season-ending injury. "Especially when you've got a guy like that that does everything right."
That was not Ingram's only troubles during that summer. He was not only out for the season, but also out of his apartment after he was issued a complaint for eviction and damages from a Gainesville apartment complex that said he failed to pay his rent, according to Alachua County court records.
Things settled down shortly thereafter, as Ingram spent the season undergoing a grueling rehabilitation program. When Florida honored its seniors before The Citadel game (11/22), Ingram walked out last. He waved to the crowd, then crouched down in a sprinter's stance and jogged a 40-yard dash -- much to the delight of the 90,000 fans at The Swamp. It was quite surprising since Ingram was just three months removed from reconstructive knee surgery. "He looked pretty good to me," Meyer said. "We were going to throw him a pass there."