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Fifty years ago, they were screwed-up kids sent to the Florida School for Boys to be straightened out. But now they are screwed-up men, scarred by the whippings they endured. Read the story and see a video and portrait gallery.
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Ex-QB Ingram stands out on receiving end
By BRYAN JONES, Times Correspondent
Published September 9, 2007
GAINESVILLE - Tight end is a position that has traditionally been featured very little in Urban Meyer's spread offense.
That is, until Cornelius Ingram came along.
Ingram established himself as a major weapon in Florida's offense Saturday, catching seven passes for a career-high 105 yards and a touchdown in a 59-31 victory over Troy.
The Troy defense featured mostly soft zone coverage, as the unit seemed determined not to get beat deep by the Gators' wide receivers.
That allowed Ingram to play to his strengths as a possession receiver, sliding underneath the coverage on short and intermediate routes in the middle of the field.
"It felt good," Ingram said. "You definitely want to take advantage of (your opportunities), because with the guys we have at all the positions ... you never know when you will get it again."
The 6-foot-4, 230-pound junior also showed off his ability to run after the catch, using a combination of size and speed to break tackles and elude defenders.
Ingram's second-quarter 5-yard touchdown reception put the Gators up 42-7.
Two years ago, Ingram could never have envisioned having such a performance.
A quarterback who found himself buried and sinking on the depth chart, the discouraged Ingram approached Meyer to discuss transferring. If not for a pep talk from former Florida cornerback Vernell Brown, Ingram likely wouldn't be wearing a Gators uniform today.
Brown talked Ingram out of leaving, and Meyer convinced Ingram that while his future at quarterback was bleak, his skills would translate well to the tight end position.
Two years later, Meyer is talking about Ingram's possible future in the NFL.
"He's got it all," Meyer said. "If he learns to be a little more physical, he will be an NFL football player. He's very talented, great hands, great size. He's got a great future.
"Above all, he is a high character guy. He is the face of Florida football, and he played very well tonight."
Despite modest numbers in Ingram's transition to the position last season (30 catches for 380 yards and one touchdown in 14 games), his potential has already caught the eyes of the media.
Ingram was voted to the preseason all-conference second team at SEC media days in July.
Ingram, who also played basketball in 2005 before leaving the team to focus on football, said his life has changed quite a bit since his 2005 meeting with Meyer.
"I am happy with the position I'm in right now," Ingram said. "Great team, great teammates, great coaches, and we're defending a national championship.