Cornelius Ingram Out and Other Gator News

Bad, bad news folks. Cornelius Ingram has told to the Sporting News that he tore his ACL towards the end of Tuesday’s practice. An MRI Thursday confirmed it.

Recruited as much by Billy Donovan for the basketball team as he was by Ron Zook for the football team, Ingram has had a long, strange ride here. He ended up giving up basketball to focus on football, but he nearly quit the team two years in when the coaches told him he wouldn’t be playing quarterback anymore.

He decided to stay and tough it out, and he blossomed into one of the country’s best pass-catching tight ends. He could have gone to the draft but decided to stay for his final season. For a guy who’s done everything right on and off the field, this hurts.

I supposed he’ll just rehab and go to the draft since he’s already 23 and getting a medical redshirt for a sixth year doesn’t make much sense. It hurts the team because it needs leadership from its tiny senior class. It hurts him as a football player because another season in school would have helped him improve his blocking, the glaring weakness in his game. He’s got the measurables to impress scouts and be drafted early, but the first round is probably out of the question now.

In theory, the team will be fine. Aaron Hernandez and Carl Moore can run Ingram’s routes, and Tate Casey can do his blocking. The only possibility this takes away is having Ingram and Hernandez on the field at the same time, a combination potent enough to have Urban Meyer drawing up two-tight end schemes for the first time in his career.

Fare thee well, Cornelius. It was great to have you as a Gator.

Other News

Chris Rainey was hobbled Wednesday due to a groin strain, an injury that has been bugging him since track season according to Meyer. Justin Trattou missed Wednesday practice with the flu, but it’s not serious. Jeffrey Demps appeared to injure his hip and/or knee on the last play Wednesday, but Meyer said he’d be fine. Omar Hunter has been practicing in everything but contact drills due to his back soreness, but the coaches hoped to have him in full contact on Friday.

Meyer was unhappy with practice on Wednesday, saying the guys weren’t flying around like Brandon Siler and Ray McDonald used to. For a team that still has plenty of youth, dragging on the middle day of the week is not entirely unexpected.

The Gainesville Sun’‘s Brandon Zimmerman reported from Wednesday’s session a few nuggets of good news. Redshirt freshman WR Deonte Thompson looked really good and really fast. He says Carlos Dunlap looks like Al Horford in a football uniform and performed well. The punt block drill gets Meyer fired up more than anything, and it looked good. Joe Haden looks confident and could have a breakout year.

Sophomore Lawrence Marsh and JUCO transfer Troy Epps look like the starters at defensive tackle for now. John Brantley throws a nice ball, better than the descriptions of Cam Newton earlier in the week. Frankie Hammond, Jr. also had another acrobatic catch.

Probably as a result of the lackluster effort, Meyer chose to close practice on Thursday and Friday. The days had originally been earmarked for open practice, but he probably felt that the standing room only crowd yesterday distracted his team.

That’s disappointing, but there’s nothing written that requires his practices to be open. No doubt the some of the regulars on Gainesville’s sports talk radio are bemoaning the further erosion of access into the program for “the average fan” that they’ve been mourning ever since Meyer arrived.

The Sun has an article up about how the other tight ends on the roster must step up. Towards the end it describes the insane hoops Tate Casey had to jump through to even be back this year.

Casey looked good as a freshman in 2004, but the most notable thing he’s done since Meyer arrived was catch Tim Tebow’s first jump pass. He’s a good blocker though, so he’ll get time on the field. I can also tell you from personal experience that he’s a good guy. He also likes to wear a Minnesota Twins hat because it has his initials on it.

There really isn’t much else to report since practice was closed and all of the attention in the post-practice interview with Meyer was rightfully about CI. The only other piece of information I could find is Meyer saying that the injury “puts a dent” in the plans to have two tight end sets this fall. In other word, they’re pretty much scrapped.

If you’re looking for a positive in this (not that there’s much of one), it’s that it allows Casey to get some real playing time his final year and gives Hernandez some of the spotlight. He showed some flashes last season that indicated that when it’s all said and done, he could end up being better than Ingram.

No doubt about it though, the Gators are worse off for this to happen.

ETC

Freshman CB Adrian Bushell was cleared by the NCAA Clearinghouse, so good for him and for Florida.

Freshman CB Jeremy Brown from Orlando’s Boone High School is receiving rave reviews from Meyer who called him “one of the hardest working guys on the team.” Enrolling early last January gave him a boost in skill and confidence.

Closing practice on Thursday had the desired effect as Meyer was pleased with the effort. He feels like “the circus is over” and everyone’s back to working hard. I wonder if this will cause changes in future practices being open, or at least the amount of them.

One of the video aces from the GatorSports.com message board has a nice tribute video up of CI.

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