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August 25, 2005

Ingram focused on football

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Cornelius Ingram made a big concession in the offseason. In order to focus his attention on playing quarterback at the University of Florida, he walked away from playing college basketball. After meeting with Florida head football coach Urban Meyer and basketball head coach Billy Donovan, Ingram came to the conclusion that he was going to have to participate in football full-time if he wanted a chance to play at such a demanding position and so he had to put his basketball aspirations on hold.

"It is real great, pretty exciting," Ingram said of his return. "Just being out there around football guys on the field has been real good. I think last year - I wouldn't say that I came in not expecting to play - but I knew I wanted to start off with basketball as soon as possible. I wouldn't say that my mindset wasn't there, but I knew I was going to kind of ease out and end up playing basketball since I was going to redshirt. But now I feel a whole lot more comfortable."

The 6-4, 209-pound Ingram said the biggest reason he has started to settle in at quarterback is because the coaching staff has boosted his confidence.

"I think if you play with a lot of confidence it can help with some of your mistakes," the redshirt freshman said. "When I came in during the spring, the coaches knew that I didn't pick up on everything right there. So they just told me to go make the play and play with confidence and 9 out of 10 times things will work out good."

Also, his open communication with Meyer has made the transition back to football much smoother.

"I think with coach Meyer, he is always open for me to come in and talk about anything," said Ingram, who primarily worked with the scout team in 2004. "He is the kind of coach that a lot of players are going to like right now, and hopefully with time, the guys that are going to come in as well."

Ingram is currently competing with Josh Portis and Gavin Dickey for the backup quarterback spot and, despite what people may think, the competition factor doesn't mean the players have not become friends.

"A lot of people think Josh Portis and I wouldn't get along, but honestly, we are real good friends," Ingram said. "This might sound a little strange but I actually ask Josh for certain things. To be honest when I came in last year I went through two-a-days and we had a totally different offense. What I learned then really didn't matter when these coaches came in, so it was more like he understood it better than I did at the time. So I didn't have any shame in asking him so I could understand what was going on. I think Josh is a real great quarterback."

Aside from having to learn a new offense, Ingram also had to get acquainted with a new quarterbacks coach Dan Mullen. And it seems the inquisitive Ingram is having little trouble with the change of coaches.

"To be honest I really don't have a problem with asking questions," he said. "If I don't know something or understand a lot, I ask Chris or the coaches "What is going on?" or "Who am I reading here?" I think that was the main thing that coach Mullen stressed is ask questions if you don't know or don't understand. I really felt comfortable when he said that, so if I had a question I always asked."

Certainly Ingram can be applauded for his move to leave the hardwood to concentrate on the reason why he came to Florida - to someday be the starting quarterback. What a story that might make someday, a local kid from Hawthorne getting his shot to play quarterback for the Gators, and Ingram feels that day may be sooner than later.

"I think if I keep learning and doing the good things on the field I am pretty sure there will be points in games where I will be thrown in there," he said. "But to be honest, Chris is a great quarterback and you can't get mad at that. Whatever it takes to win I am all for it, but there might be certain points in the game where I get in there. Just being on the field will be pretty good for me."

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