TE Cornelius Ingram: “At the end of the day, there’s nothing like being on the field.”

After two years of rehabbing his torn anterior cruciate ligament, two years of watching while other tight ends succeeded in his stead and two years of sitting in the background while yearning to get back on the field to play his favorite sport, Philadelphia Eagles tight end Cornelius Ingram decided to spend his free month before 2010 training camp begins starting a charity and spending a half hour talking about his career and life with OGGOA. The former Florida Gators breakout star, now back in town to relax with family and work out with some of his former coaches, reminisced about his struggles, successes and what he hopes to accomplish in his hometown.

ADAM SILVERSTEIN: Let’s start off with the most important question first…how is your knee? Last we heard you were back to full speed and participating in mini camp.
CORNELIUS INGRAM: “That’s 100 percent correct. I feel good. I was able to go through OTAs and minicamp and I had a pretty successful one as well. I feel good. The knee’s back to 100 percent, so I’m excited about the season.”

AS: Obviously it is tough going into a situation where you are hoping to contribute right away only to get backtracked with basically the same injury again. What were your thoughts when you found out you had to sit out another full year after tearing your ACL?
CI: “It was tough. If anybody is doing something that they have a passion for and they love it, regardless if its sports or not, it’s tough when you love to do something and it’s something you’ve been doing your whole life – it’s very hard to sit out and watch other guys be successful. I’m a pretty competitive guy, so I’m always trying to do my best at whatever I’m doing. It was very tough being [injured] two years in a row. But the good thing I can say – I was still able to go to meetings. I was lifting weights; I was still able to watch film with the team during the course of game week. I still felt like I got better in certain areas, but at the end of the day, there’s nothing like being on the field.”

Read the rest of our exclusive interview with Cornelius Ingram…after the break!
Continue Reading » TE Cornelius Ingram: “At the end of the day, there’s nothing like being on the field.”

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TWO BITS: Starks, Pouncey help; Cooper waits

1 » Former Florida Gators offensive linemen Max Starks and Maurkice Pouncey – both now with the Pittsburgh Steelers –hosted a football camp at Lake Highland Preparatory School last weekend. However, the interesting story leading up to the event was an invitation extended to a 14-year-old boy named Edwin. You see, Edwin attempted to do a good deed when he found a lost three-year-old girl and tried to return her to her mother. Unfortunately, the woman he chased after was not the toddler’s parent. Instead of being rewarded, Edwin was arrested in front of television cameras and charged a felony count of false imprisonment by the Orange County Sherriff’s Department.

Under home confinement until June 24, the only way Edwin could attend the camp was if the county decided to drop the charges. Unfortunately, they kept him at his house; Edwin missed the camp (taking place at Starks’ alma mater and a school the youngster hopes to play for in the future) and the state attorney’s office has yet to drop the charges.

2 » The Philadelphia Eagles are doing their best to get all of their 2010 draftees under contract but are struggling in their efforts to have all 13 of them signed. Making some headway last week, the Eagles only have three players left to sign including wide receiver Riley Cooper. The Philadelphia Daily News believes that Cooper’s deal “ought to get done pretty quickly” because it will be the least financially difficult one to complete.

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TWO BITS: Cooper, Dunlap fight for playing time

1 » The size and speed new Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Riley Cooper is bringing to the table may cost one or more of the team’s current players (read: Hank Baskett) his job, but that doesn’t necessarily bother the former Florida Gators pass catcher. “It’s definitley a good situation for me coming in here,” Cooper told the Philadelphia Daily News. “There are some good veterans ahead of me, so there are good people to learn from. I’m in a good spot, and I just want to take advantage of it.” That being said, Cooper still has a lot to learn (like going up to grab passes rather than letting them fall to him) in order to succeed long-term in the NFL.

2 » Defensive end Carlos Dunlap also has a lot of adjustments to make in order to grab some playing time in his rookie season with the Cincinnati Bengals. With the team’s starter – Antwan Odom – recovering from a ruptured Achilles tendon, Dunlap was thought to have the inside track on being given a bunch of snaps that the incumbent starter would be unable to play. Instead of supplanting Odom right away, Dunlap will be watching from the sidelines as the veteran has recovered from his surgery and returned to the practice field late last week, according to Jason La Canfora of NFL Network.

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TWO BITS: Ingram’s return, Rivers’ planned visits

1 » Last week, former Florida Gators tight end Cornelius Ingram opened up to the Philadelphia Enquirer about his recovery from a second ACL surgery and ambition about returning to the practice field for the Philadelphia Eagles. Thursday, he spoke with the Associated Press about the same subject. “Any time you get hurt, suffer a major injury, it’s going to be tough,” Ingram said. “When it’s the same injury, the same part of your body, it’s tougher. [It was] terrible, just terrible. But what could I do, except rehab, and work hard to get back.” Ingram now says he is 100 percent healthy and is practicing at full speed. “It feels great,” he said. “Mentally, you have to get that confidence back; you have to learn to trust your knee. It’s scary, because it’s always in the back of your mind, especially when it’s happened twice. But right now I have the confidence. I’m ready to go. I couldn’t wait to get back on the field here. Now, I can’t wait to get to training camp.”

2 » In his latest Dime Magazine hoop diary, five-star 2011 guard recruit and former Gators commitment Austin Rivers once again discusses his recruitment. “I still keep in touch with Coach K at Duke and Coach [Billy] Donovan at Florida,” Rivers said in the middle of the piece. “I only get five official visits so I want to definitely go back to Duke. I’ve got to go to UCLA, Kansas, North Carolina and Florida, too.” Previously, Rivers had not mentioned taking an official visit to Florida, seemingly because he knew the program so well. Apparently that has changed.

Extra Bit » Former Gators and NFL star Ike Hilliard has been named the wide receivers coach of the UFL’s Florida Tuskers according to a press release from the league. He was a volunteer assistant coach on the team last season and was recently hired to a full-time position by new Tuskers head coach Jay Gruden.

Photo Credit: Tracy Wilcox/The Gainesville Sun

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TWO BITS: Ingram’s knee, Rainey and Howard

1 » Wide receiver Riley Cooper may be the latest former Florida Gators player to join the Philadelphia Eagles, but the one who was once thought to make the greatest impact was tight end Cornelius Ingram. Though he came into training camp his rookie year off of season-ending ACL surgery that forced him to sit out the Gators’ 2008 BCS National Championship run, there were hopes that Ingram could take the starting job right away. Instead, he re-injured his ACL during camp and Brent Celek stepped into the role. Now, one year later, Ingram’s knee is holding up well and he hopes to start his NFL career as Celek’s back-up.

“I think I came into this camp with way more confidence than where I was this time last year,” Ingram told the Philadelphia Inquirer after completing a long workout. “That helps out a lot — just knowing you can relax and just play football. It’s going good. I know I can play this game. I know if my knee’s healthy, I can play this game at a high level.” Ingram has been able to do whatever has been asked of him so far including cutting in both directions and running at full speed.

2 » Florida strength and conditioning coach Mickey Marotti told the Orlando Sentinel Thursday that he has been most impressed with redshirt juniors wide receiver Chris Rainey and defensive end Jaye Howard thus far during early summer workouts. “A lot of it is maturing,” Marotti said when discussing Rainey. “After a while, [players say] ‘I better gain some weight’ or ‘I better get stronger.’” He is equally impressed with Howard’s drive. “I see a little bit more, I don’t know if it’s hunger or what,” he said. “He lets me know at the end – ‘I’m better, huh?’ — because he moved up two spots. It’s all based on attitude. That’s one guy I can say, ‘Wow.’”

Photo Credit: Tracy Wilcox/The Gainesville Sun

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TWO BITS: Tebow’s a lefty; Dunlap, Cooper notes

1 » In case you did not know after watching him for four seasons, former Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow is left-handed. As if questions about his throwing motion and mechanics were not enough, ESPN decided to speak to some lefties who played in the NFL to see if it would have any impact on the Denver Broncos‘ first-round draft pick’s career. “Ultimately, whether Tim Tebow succeeds in the NFL or not, the fact that he is left-handed will have no bearing on it,” Brock Huard said. Obviously. However, it is interesting that only 12 lefties have started more than 50 NFL games behind center and there are just six currently in the league (only one – Arizona’s Matt Leinart – is currently a starter). “It’s just little things,” said Houston quarterbacks coach Greg Knapp (who worked with Steve Young In San Francisco). “But when it works, it can be an advantage. Defensive players are trained to play against right-handed quarterbacks. So, you can really make them uncomfortable.”

2 » Organized team activities (OTAs) are going on right now throughout the NFL, but information is hard to come by due to the fact that most are closed to the press. Here are two notes that OGGOA was able to uncover: (1) Defensive end Carlos Dunlap, a second-round pick of the Cincinnati Bengals, “could have had three straight sacks on contact” while working out Wednesday. (2) Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Riley Cooper, like he did for much of his Florida career, “made some nice catches but also had some bad drops” while looking for passes from quarterback Kevin Kolb.

Photo Credit: Associated Press

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TWO BITS: Pouncey soaks it in, Ingram returns

1 » Former Florida Gators center Maurkice Pouncey is loving his new home with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Drafted by the six-time Super Bowl champions with the No. 18 overall pick in the 2010 NFL Draft, Pouncey is “just trying to establish” himself with the veterans. “This is a great experience and a great team,” Pouncey told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “All of the guys take you in, none of that hazing kind of thing. It’s just, ‘Win championships.’ […] I’m sitting in here looking at all of the other guys that played in the Super Bowl and just trying to soak in what they’ve got and follow their lead.” He joins Florida alum and left tackle Max Starks on Pittsburgh’s offensive line. “He didn’t come in with any type of ego,” Starks said, praising Pouncey’s introduction. “That’s what you want to see, especially in an offensive lineman. You want a young guy to come in that wants to learn and wants to get better.”

2 » According to a live chat session with Philadelphia Inquirer beat writer Jeff McLane, former Gators tight end Cornelius Ingram participated in individual drills during the Philadelphia Eagles’ minicamp last weekend. Missing his rookie year after suffering a second injury to his anterior cruciate ligament (the first kept him out the 2008-09 Florida football season), Ingram lost out on a starting opportunity to Brent Celek but has a chance to be a back-up and earn time on the field should he be able to stay healthy. Reports are that his rehab has been going well, and Ingram is expected to make a full recovery. Wide receiver Riley Cooper, drafted in the fifth round by Philadelphia, joins Ingram on the Eagles this season.

Photo Credit: Tracy Wilcox/The Gainesville Sun

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FOUR BITS: Softball dominates, new commitments

1 » The word “dominate” is thrown around a lot, but that is exactly what No. 6/5 Florida Gators softball (39-7, 17-4 SEC) did Wednesday evening, shutting out the North Florida Ospreys (23-27) 22-0 and 8-0 in a doubleheader at Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium in Gainesville, FL. The Gators won each game in five innings, hitting seven total home runs (six in the first game – tying UF single-game record) and scoring 30 runs. The 22 runs that crossed home plate in the first game of the series (14 in the third inning alone) set a school record. Wins were achieved by junior Stephanie Brombacher (26-5), who began a no-hitter with five strikeouts in three innings, and freshman Ensley Gammel (12-2), who struck out six and only gave up three hits.

Senior outfielder Francesca Enea (18), freshman first baseman Brittany Schutte (14), junior OF Kelsey Bruder (10), junior catcher Tiffany DeFelice (7), senior third baseman Corrie Brooks (8) and freshman OF Kelsey Horton (4) hit the first six bombs, with DeFelice (8) adding a second in the late game. Schutte’s moon shot also broke Florida’s freshman home run record, last set in 2008.

2 » Gators women’s basketball added its sixth 2010-11 commitment Monday when Santa Fe College sophomore point guard Lanita Bartley (Jacksonville, FL) signed a National Letter of Intent to join the University of Florida. “Lanita is a dynamic scoring point guard, who brings experience in the point guard position,” head coach Amanda Butler said. “She’s been in the Florida Junior College system for two years, which is consistently the most competitive in the country.”

3 » Also increasing its talent level is Florida’s track and field team, which added a commitment from Luc Lawrence (Fort Walton Beach, FL), Lawrence, who can run both track and cross country, began running in eighth grade and caught the eye of cross country coach Todd Morgan almost immediately.

4 » As OGGOA first reported on Twitter early Wednesday, Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow officially had the top selling jersey in the month of April according to sales figures from NFLShop.com. Tebow’s new Broncos jersey was only available for eight days of the month (he was drafted on April 22), yet it easily surpassed jersey sales for new Washington Redskins QB Donovan McNabb, who was traded away from the Philadelphia Eagles on April 4 and came in second overall on the list.

“I think it’s an honor for people to want my jersey and want to have it and want to wear it,” Tebow told the Denver Post on Wednesday. “It is somewhat surreal to have it sell more than some of these people I grew up idolizing.”

Photo Credit: University of Florida

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