22 Days Away from Bama Kickoff: Mark Ingram
Each day counting down to Alabama's Week 1 matchup with Utah State, I will highlight a former player whose jersey number coincides with the amount of days until the game. Today is a special day as several players to don No. 22 have put together legendary Alabama careers, but let's look at one who helped kickstart the Saban era, Mark Ingram.
Mark Ingram is one of the most legendary figures in Crimson Tide history. From 2008-10 he put together an incredible career, finishing as the program's first ever Heisman winner and helping start what would become college football's most dominant dynasty.
Ingram was rated as a four-star recruit in the 2008 class by 247Sports, and was the 10th ranked running back in the nation. He chose the Crimson Tide over several other notable Power Five offers, opting to buy into what Nick Saban was building in Tuscaloosa.
As a freshman, Ingram split time with Glen Coffee, earning 143 reps and finishing with over 700 rushing yards. He was named to the Freshman All-SEC team and the Tide finished just a game short of an appearance in the national title.
In 2009, Ingram took over as the full-time starter and put together one of the best seasons ever for a Bama running back. The sophomore rushed for over 1,600 yards and scored 17 touchdowns, culminating with becoming the program's first ever Heisman Trophy winner. Ingram and the Tide finished the season undefeated and won the National Championship in dominant fashion over Texas.
In his third and final year at Alabama, Ingram and newcomer Trent Richardson combined to form one of college football's scariest backfields of all-time. The pair combined for 1,575 yards and nearly 20 touchdowns, but the Tide dropped a few crucial games in the regular season and missed out on returning to the championship.
Ingram departed for the NFL after the 2010 season and was selected by the New Orleans Saints in the first round of the draft.
He spent eight seasons in the Big Easy before joining the Baltimore Ravens in 2019. Ingram spent just two years in Baltimore, and signed with the Houston Texans for the 2021 season, but was traded halfway through the year back to the Saints.
Across his 11-year NFL career, Ingram has compiled nearly 8,000 rushing yards and 54 touchdowns, and is a three-time Pro Bowler (2014, 2017, 2019).
He is still with the Saints as they head into the 2022 season, but will likely see a limited role on the offense with Alvin Kamara as the featured back. Despite his best playing days being behind him, Ingram has found longevity in the league that few at his position have.