Thursday, December 8, 2011

We will miss you Melvin Ingram! What a year!

I think almost every Gamecock fan has big #6, Melvin Ingram, as their choice for the team’s most valuable player in 2011.  I am sure a few might would choose Antonio Allen or Connor Shaw but honestly Ingram was the heart and soul of this year’s football team. 
M. Ingram scored touchdown on fake punt vs. Georgia.
Think about the adversity this team went through from where the year began until now.  USC came into the year perched on the preseason hype surrounding a 5th-year Senior QB, and two preseason All-American/Heisman Hopefuls at RB and WR.  Meanwhile, Ingram had to enter his senior campaign hearing all about a freshman recruit at his position in Jadeveon Clowney.   
Ingram didn’t whine or pout about the lack of attention and embraced the new young star into the fold.  He strapped on his helmet and started a journey that very quietly may be remembered as one of the finest seasons from a DL that has ever been played.  

An obvious place to start is the Georgia game in Athens.  Ask any Bulldog or Gamecock fan who saw that contest, “Who was the MVP?”  Outside of the drunk guy in the red pants who would answer “Herschel” everyone would point to #6.  Ingram introduced himself to the nation with a fake punt that electrified the Gamecock fans and changed the momentum of the game.  Late in the game, after Carolina had re-taken the lead, Ingram picked up a fumble and jogged into the end zone with the touchdown that gave the Gamecocks a 10-point lead and really put it away. 

Other “highlight” plays would follow including a big fumble recovery against Vandy for a Touchdown, but what started out as sizzle in Athens turned into filet mignon the rest of the way via sacks and QB pressures.  Ingram was a nightmare for any Offensive Coordinator having to gameplan against USC.  The patriarch of a front four that produced an almost manic intensity on the field, Ingram’s name was announced on the PA time after time following big moments when the defense needed a stop.  

The culmination came against Clemson on Senior Day.  Tiger QB Tajh Boyd is probably still waking up in cold sweats thanking the heavens that Ingram will be playing on Sunday next year.  Virginia Tech’s defense must have seemed like a stroll in the park by comparison after that beating.    

If Ingram is not named an All-American, then those who make that list have their collective heads in the sand.  I have watched Emmanuel Weaver, Rickey Hagood, Derrick Little, Andrew Provence, Frank Wright, Roy Hart, Cleveland Pinckney, George Gause and scores of others over the years in Columbia.  Find me a season from any of them that match the 2011 just produced by Ingram.  Can’t be done.  

We’ll miss you #6!!

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