Mt. Ingram All Business

November 19, 1994|By Paul McMullen | Paul McMullen,Sun Staff Writer

SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- Let's not get sentimental.

Steve Ingram isn't.

Sure, Mount Ingram will get mushy after he has ended one of the longest careers in Maryland football history, one that will conclude today against Syracuse at the Carrier Dome.

He'll remember the friends he has made on the Terps' offensive line and the disappointments he has endured through four straight losing seasons, but he didn't awake yesterday morning in a reflective mood.

"I'll think about all that other stuff later," Ingram said. "Right now, there's too much work to do."

When Ingram returned to Maryland for a sixth season, it was a business decision. He passed on the 1994 draft, deciding that he could improve his stock with NFL scouts by playing another season of college ball.

The decision paid off. It has been a season of modest improvement for Maryland (4-6), but one of considerable personal gain for Ingram.

Pancake a rush end, convert another scout. Make a cornerback run for his life on an outside screen, move up on an NFL team's shopping list. One play at a time -- about 750 in all -- Ingram has advanced from being a probable fourth-round draft choice in 1994 to a possible first-rounder in 1995.

"The reason I came back this year was so I could go in the first round," said Ingram, who will make his 33rd straight start for the Terps at left tackle. "I feel I get closer to that every day."

In August, draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. rated Ingram the nation's ninth-best tackle prospect in a stellar class of offensive linemen.

"Kiper just came out with another draft report," said Ingram, who petitioned the NCAA for an extra year of eligibility after he suffered a broken leg in the opening game of the 1991 season. "Now, he's got me rated as the No. 4 tackle . . . and the No. 1 prospect at guard."

It seems that Ingram was an unexpected beneficiary of all those outside screens Maryland ran this fall, as an antidote to secondaries that weren't going to get beat deep a second straight year by quarterback Scott Milanovich. Ingram's ability to accelerate, get outside and lead interference on the screens has shown he could move over and play pulling guard.

"I've been dominating the guys I've played against on the line," Ingram said, "and the outside screens showed I can block against agile defensive backs. I've been able to showcase my talent one way or another."

Ingram, who will limit his all-star appearances to the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala., in late January, feels he's still maturing physically and technically. He has grown to 6 feet 5 and 300 pounds.

Ingram will leave the biggest hole on a Maryland offensive line that will require major rebuilding in 1995. Right guard Dave Hack also has shown draft potential. Jade Dubis, the left guard, is another three-year starter. The unit began the season with a fourth senior starter, but center Jamie Bragg switched to defensive tackle in Week 3.

Bragg sustained a severe ankle injury at Virginia last week, which required the surgical insertion of a plate and several pins to stabilize the joint. He was a last-minute addition to the Terps' travel party, and Ingram is glad Bragg, his fellow co-captain, made the trip.

It's customary for Maryland seniors to address the team before its final game, and Ingram isn't one to give motivational speeches.

"Jamie is the boisterous one," Ingram said. "I usually don't say much, and I can't change now. I'll just try to lead by example. If they're not ready to play now . . ."

He means business.

NOTE: At some point today, Ingram could be blocking another sixth-year senior, Syracuse inside linebacker Dan Conley, who has become a folk hero this season. When Conley underwent arthroscopic surgery last month, it was the 10th time he had been operated on to repair a football injury. He missed the 1991 and 1993 seasons after undergoing reconstructive knee surgery. The 1991 injury occurred in a 31-17 win at Maryland, on a carry by Chad Wiestling, who's now a Maryland student assistant.

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