South Carolina has a 16-member class that was honored on Senior Day against Clemson. In the buildup to bowl season, we’ll reminisce over the career of each player in a Gamecock uniform.
DE Melvin Ingram – Hamlet N.C./Richmond County
Committing to Carolina: A native of the Tar Heel State, Ingram chose to come south to play his college football choosing the Gamecocks over North Carolina, North Carolina State, and others. A middle linebacker from Richmond County High School, he finished with 87 tackles as a senior and 2.5 sacks. He also returned a fumble for a touchdown in the Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas. In high school, he played running back and was also the team’s kicker, in addition to his linebacker duties.
Early years: Ingram spent his freshman season at linebacker and played in 12 games grabbing 15 tackles. He missed the entire 2008 season after breaking his foot in an off-field accident but returned in 2009 to play in all 13 games. He moved to the defensive line and finished the season with 18 tackles, 3.5 of which went for a loss.
His junior season was when he really started to come alive though. Surprisingly, Ingram only started one game (Southern Miss) on the season but he was one of the team’s top playmakers. Ingram just happened to play behind Cliff Matthews, so starting opportunities were limited. The former linebacker turned down lineman led the team with 9.0 sacks, which also ranked third in the SEC and tied for the second-highest single season total in school history. While he only had 28 total tackles, 11.0 of them went for a loss of yardage.
Final campaign: As good as Ingram was as a junior, he’s been even better during his senior season. He was voted a captain by his teammates and has made plays almost every game this year. He contributed on the scoreboard three times this season running a fake punt 68 yards for a touchdown against Georgia and then returned a fumble five yards for another score against the Bulldogs. Ingram also recovered a fumble in the end zone against Vanderbilt this season to give him three touchdowns, which ranks tied for fourth on the team behind only Marcus Lattimore, Alshon Jeffery, and Connor Shaw.
Ingram has 44 total tackles so far this season, which includes 13.5 for a loss. He has 8.5 sacks for minus-67 yards to his credit, one fumble recovery, and six quarterback hits. The defensive end, who shifts inside to tackle in passing situations, has two interceptions and three touchdowns this season.
Career highlights: Early in his career, Ingram fought, fought, and fought some more a move from linebacker to defensive line. Finally, he gave in to Brad Lawing, who has developed him into a big-time playmaker that will hear his name called in the first two rounds of the NFL Draft in April. Ingram has always been regarded as one of the team’s top athletes and he showed why when he finally got his hands on the football. He’s scored three touchdowns this season and successfully executed two fake punts.
One of Ingram’s best games came last season in the upset win over top-ranked Alabama. He had two sacks and another half-tackle for loss against the Crimson Tide. He memorably broke a bone in his hand against Vanderbilt last season but continued to play. He didn’t miss any time, instead wrapping his hand in a cast to play each game. This season has been one big, long highlight for Ingram, who has gone from relative obscurity to future NFL Draft selection.
Defensive end Melvin Ingram led the team with 9.0 sacks as a junior.
Final stats: Ingram has started all 12 games this season, which gives him 13 career starts. He currently has 105 total tackles during his career but 29.0 of them have gone for a loss. Ingram has 20 career sacks, two forced fumbles, six quarterback hits, two interceptions, and three touchdowns during his career, which may be one of the most underrated of all time.
What they said:
I would have to say my favorite memory is getting the opportunity to play college football on a D-I level. Just being here with Travian, Byron, and all them, coming from North Carolina to South Carolina, so my favorite memory is just being part of this program and building a winning tradition. I don’t have one individual moment, but all five years has been quite an experience for me. -Melvin Ingram
I’ve known Melvin for a long time. He’s a playmaker and he can do anything they ask him to do. He’s a great player and he gives his all. I tell him all the time that teams double-team me and leave him one-on-one and I don’t know what they’re thinking. I don’t understand it, but someone has to do it. He’s the guy every game to make a play. The Mississippi State game, we were both tired, and told him, ‘We have to step up, we have to get it,’ and I looked up and he was in the quarterback’s face and D.J. (Swearinger) caught an interception. Everyone saw D.J.’s interception but didn’t realize that Melvin caused a bad throw. He deserves everything he gets and I’m proud of him. -Travian Robertson
Melvin is a guy, in the recruiting process, when we evaluated him, we knew he was going to be a down lineman. He grew up, made a change, and it’s the best thing for him. Hopefully he’ll have a chance to further his career in football because he made that change … He’s quick, he’s fast. He’s had a good season. He really has. -defensive line coach Brad Lawing
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