Ex-Badgers FB Ingold hopes to stand out at unpopular position
Alec Ingold saw others head to sunny locales and the beach to train for the NFL draft. While that definitely sounded like a good time and a nice place to go, Ingold knew it wasn’t for him. That would be unbecoming for a fullback.
“I knew I wanted to be somewhere that was a little gritty,” the former Wisconsin Badger said.
Instead, he headed to Boost FitClub in land-locked Nashville. There he was able to focus on the task at hand while surrounded by, as he described it, a “blue-collar group.”
Blue collar is, of course, an apt description for the position Ingold plays, and hopes to continue playing in the NFL. It is the anti-quarterback. Rarely touching the ball, going largely underappreciated and generally walking through football life anonymously.
Well, not always anonymously.
Ingold was the only fullback invited to the Senior Bowl. Suddenly, he was the big man on campus.
“It was funny talking to some of the coaches, they said to teams that use a fullback I was the pretty girl at school,” Ingold joked.
While it felt good to be wanted, Ingold understands that in the NFL there are those who want nothing to do with him. He estimated around two-thirds of teams use a fullback, meaning he’s not even going to be on the draft board of 10-12 teams. For example, Ingold said the Los Angeles Rams use 11 personnel (one running back, one tight end, three wide receivers) the vast majority of the time, so he won’t be a teammate of Todd Gurley.
Ingold said of the teams that use a fullback it’s a split on how they use one – some just want a blocker to protect a quarterback and assist a running back. Others want a player more involved in the offense, getting carries and catching passes. Ingold feels he can fit any role.
“I think the more athletic and less of a battering ram probably suits me better,” Ingold said, “but I want to be a good fit for either mold. Being able to do the job no matter what it is.”
At Wisconsin, Ingold had 103 rushes in his four seasons, gaining 343 yards with 17 touchdowns. He caught just 14 passes (all in his last three seasons) but averaged 13.2 yards per catch and had four TDs.
“I try to show them, especially in workouts, that I can run around and be athletic and catch the rock a lot because it’s just something I want to show we practiced all the time,” Ingold said. “It showed up on film in spots. I just want to show them that I can be consistent with it, too. This last year was obviously a great year to watch film, and I put it on there, but getting in front of these teams and (to) do it time and time again was definitely huge.”
That’s not to say Ingold can’t perform the other, more well-known duty of being a fullback. In his scouting report of Ingold, Dane Brugler of The Athletic wrote the former Badgers is an “eager blocker” and as “an extension of Wisconsin’s offensive line, Ingold searches for collisions as a blocker.”
A former quarterback in high school (he said he lobbied Wisconsin coach Paul Chryst for an opportunity to throw a pass, to no avail) who was originally converted to linebacker with the Badgers, Ingold knows all too well the physical nature of the position. He’s friends with and has solicited advice from former Wisconsin fullbacks Bradie Ewing, Derek Watt and Austin Ramesh.
When Ramesh quit the game after being signed by the Arizona Cardinals last year due to a history of head injuries, Ingold was there to talk with the fullback about his decision and support him. At the same point, Ingold isn’t worried about having the same issue. He said he’s never had a head injury and now, after talking with Ramesh, knows what it might feel like and what steps to take if he’s ever in that position.
“But I’ve been really lucky, for whatever reason, my technique, how I play the position a little differently, I’ve been really lucky. … I don’t see any problems there,” Ingold said. “I don’t know if it’s (hitting) with the shoulders or facemask or whatever, I’m going to keep doing it because it’s working out.”
Ingold gained a little national notoriety for his hitting in the Senior Bowl when one of his blocks went viral. Acting as a lead blocker a receiver end around, Ingold spotted a defender, waited and leveled him with his shoulder. The hit got Ingold an effusive hand slap from his coach at the game – Jon Gruden.
“When they see a play like that, which is kind of signature, it’s a little different,” Ingold said. “That all plays in trying to separate yourself and trying to get drafted.”
— Duane Lively (@DuaneLively) January 26, 2019
Gruden’s Oakland Raiders happen to be one of the teams that does use a fullback. However, the Raiders weren’t one of the teams Ingold met with individually during this draft process (that doesn’t necessarily mean anything; teams have limited allowable visits). He did work out for the Saints and visit the Dolphins, Vikings and Packers. That latter one was a little more special than the others.
A Green Bay native who drove past Lambeau Field countless times growing up and admittedly is a “big time” Packers fan, getting an inside tour of the stadium and meeting with front office officials and coaches was a bit “surreal,” but Ingold also knew he remained professional and knew this wasn’t a tour by a fan but a business meeting.
“At the end you kind of have to be, ‘OK, that just happened.’ At the same time when you’re doing it, you have to kind of expect to be there,” Ingold explained. “You put so much time and effort into it, you have to expect to be there and show them why they should pick me.”
Ingold of course isn’t sure how the draft will go as it pertains to him. Some teams have told him they hope they get the opportunity to draft him, others came across as trying to recruit him as an eventual undrafted free agent.
Either way, Ingold knows his day will come Saturday, on Day 3. He’ll watch with his family on TV – perhaps playing a round of golf first to help wile away the earlier hours – and wait for his phone to ring.
When it does ring – and it will, eventually – whether it’s someone telling him he’s been drafted or trying to get him to sign as a free agent, Ingold knows his journey is just beginning.
“At the end of the day I hear a lot it doesn’t matter how you get your foot in the door, you’re there,” he said. “So I’m taking that approach. I think that’s the way to take a look at it; it’s the starting line.”
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