“We clicked instantly,” he said. “I liked the guys, and I liked the campus, and I felt like it would be a great place to go to college.”
There was only one problem. There weren’t enough scholarships.
“It came down to me and another running back that they were looking at,” Ingram said. “He committed before I did, but the coaches found out that he was ineligible. So they called me (on Sunday).”
Just like that, Ingram made a commitment to play at Tennessee-Martin in the fall. He chose the Skyhawks — who play out of the Ohio Valley Conference of the Football Championship Subdivision — over Indiana State, Lenoir-Rhyne and Georgia Southern.
“I was excited and nervous when I got the call,” he said. “They were the first school to offer to me, and I’m glad they did because I really like what they have going there.
“They run an offense similar to the one we ran at South Cobb. It’s like a scramble offense, where the running back goes out to play wide receiver sometimes. There’s some pistol and spread elements to it. I’m not much of a power running back. I like to get out in space and make things happen.”
That’s what Ingram did in his two years as a starter for South Cobb.
The 6-foot, 180-pounder totaled 26 catches for 286 yards as a junior, helping the Eagles to an 8-4 record and the first state playoff win in the school’s six decade history — a thrilling come-from-behind win at Windsor Forest.
This past season, Ingram proved his abilities at running back, collecting 132 carries for 1,022 yards, as well as 31 receptions for 429 yards. He had 15 touchdowns overall.
“They are getting the most wonderful kid to work with,” said Ed Koester, South Cobb’s coach until his resignation earlier this month. “He never disagreed with anything and was compliant with whatever the coaches needed him to do. He wants to succeed and he’s been a great kid to coach.
“On the field, he can play receiver or running back. He can take a pounding and deliver a blow. He has a knack for making things happen and he can make great cuts. I’m sorry to see him go. There’s isn’t a clear-cut person (at South Cobb) that can replace him.”
Had the other running back not been academically ineligible, Ingram’s choices were either to wait for the next offer, or head to Tennessee-Martin as a “greyshirt” — he could work out, but not practice, with the team for one year while attending school by other financial means besides a scholarship.
Ingram found out about the other player’s issues when his recruiter visited South Cobb on Jan. 24.
“He told me that there was a chance that I could get the scholarship because of the other kid was ineligible, but I had to wait a few days,” Ingram said. “There were some things he had to confirm first before I’d get the call.
“Either way, I knew I was going to get a call — I just didn’t know how the conversation was going to go. Fortunately, it went the way I hoped.”
Now, Ingram will officially join a few of his other teammates as collegiate football players.
“I’m ready for me, Jeremiah (Alphabet) and Stephon (Masha) to get to the next level,” he said. “They’re my friends and we’ve been playing together since the sixth grade when we were on Milford Little League together. Now, we’ll get to sign together on signing day.”
Ingram also became the second Cobb County player to commit to the Skyhawks in recent weeks, joining Marietta defensive end Trey Warren.
Ingram also excelled at defensive back for South Cobb last season. Tennessee-Martin is thin at the position, and, according to Koester, if things go a certain way, Ingram could see time on defense.
No matter what position he plays, Ingram believes the Skyhawks’ coaches will get his best effort.
“They’re going to get a difference-maker,” he said. “I’m a hard-working and explosive player that can get them what they need.”