The few observers at spring football practice two weeks ago were greeted with a surprise when senior Nehemiah Ingram, a reserve on the men’s basketball team, joined the defensive line unit at the Edberg-Olson Football Complex.
Ingram, who gained national notoriety for his hard foul of Saint Joseph’s senior John Bryant on Feb. 22, said he had the urge to play football since he first arrived here on a basketball scholarship. He confirmed rumors that the NFL’s Indianapolis Colts had called the basketball office to inquire about him.
“I always wanted to play ever since I came to college,” said Ingram, who last played organized football in ninth grade, as a tight end. “I was just too scared to ask [men’s basketball coach John] Chaney, so one day I manned-up and asked him and he said yes. When I came in to talk to coach [Bobby] Wallace, he said it was fine, too.”
If Ingram makes the team, he will be the first student-athlete to play for both the varsity men’s basketball and football teams at Temple since Lamond Adams in 1995-98. Nationally, he’s not alone. Clemson forward Olu Babalola has also taken part in football practice this spring, trying to become the first scholarship Tiger in 20 years to play on both teams.
The department of athletics officially announced Ingram’s joining the football team as a walk-on Wednesday morning after he had undergone a week of non-contact participation. He seemed unsurprised by the small crowd of reporters that showed up before practice that afternoon.
“I expected all this,” he said, nodding to the cameras. “If the incident [involving Bryant] had never happened, half of you probably wouldn’t be out here today.”
Despite his 6-foot-8, 275-pound stature, Ingram is being treated like just another walk-on, according to coaches and players.
“It’s a longshot, but he’s a great kid,” Wallace said. “Just like any other kid in this school who wants to come out, we’ll give them that opportunity, if they show the physical ability and strength to work out and not get hurt.”
Senior defensive end Rodney Wormley said Ingram has shown a willingness to learn.
“I’m willing to help anybody who’s trying to succeed at football or anything,” Wormley said. “I brought him in like he’s a brother and tried to show him the ropes, show him what I know. It’s not going to happen in two weeks. It’s going to take a while, but he’ll be alright.”
Benjamin Watanabe can be reached at email@example.com.