What Comes Next for Ingram?
Mark Ingram captured the Heisman Trophy Saturday night, becoming the first player in Alabama’s storied history to win college football’s top award. So what now? What happens to Heisman winners once they leave the ranks of college football? Let me briefly look at the winners from the last 20 years, excluding Ingram. I will split them by college position to see if we can glean anything about Ingram’s possible future.
Rashaan Salaam – An excellent rookie year, with 1,000 yards rushing and 10 touchdowns. Career crushed by marijuana.
Eddie George – 4-time Pro Bowler, 1-time All-Pro. Topped the 10,000-yard rushing mark for his career. An excellent player that will probably forever remain just below Hall of Fame consideration.
Ricky Williams – When functional, he has been an excellent player. Career partially derailed by drug problems, much like Salaam. Made 1 Pro Bowl.
Ron Dayne – A mediocre player his entire career.
Reggie Bush – A good change-of-pace back. Looks worse because of the pre-draft hype. He has been a good pass catching back.
Andre Ware – Total bust. First round pick, but only made it on the field for 14 games.
Ty Detmer – The quintessential backup. Played 14 seasons for 6 different teams but only played 54 games.
Gino Toretta – A bust, but at least he was only a 7th round pick. Played one NFL game.
Charlie Ward – Played point guard for the New York Knicks. Never played in the NFL.
Danny Wuerffel – Career like Detmer. Played 6 seasons for 4 teams.
Chris Weinke – Holds the record for most consecutive losses by a starting QB. The Panthers became much better when he stopped starting for them.
Eric Crouch – Converted to a wide receiver and then defensive back. Never played a down in a regular season game.
Carson Palmer – The only Heisman winner since 1986 to go #1 in the NFL draft. Made 2 Pro Bowls and led the previously awful Bengals to the playoffs. One of the best QB’s in the NFL when healthy.
Jason White – Never played in an NFL game. Career derailed by two bad knees.
Matt Leinart – Cannot push Kurt Warner to the bench.
Troy Smith – Looks like another career backup. Currently sits behind Joe Flacco in Baltimore.
Tim Tebow – Turning pro this season.
Sam Bradford – Turning pro this season.
Desmond Howard – A very good kick returner, winning the Super Bowl XXXI MVP. Made 1 Pro Bowl. 10-year career. A solid #2 or #3 receiver.
Charles Woodson – One of the NFL’s better cornerbacks for the last 12 years. He has not revolutionized the position, by any means, but he has been a consistently good player the whole time, making the Pro Bowl 5 times, being 1st team All-Pro once, and winning the Defensive Rookie of the Year.
What can Ingram look forward to? Charles Woodson is probably the best NFL player on this list, with Eddie George a close second. Carson Palmer could develop into the best, if he can stay healthy. George seems to be Ingram’s aspiration, then, a very good player for almost a decade. Sadly, the chance of being an absolute bust is every bit as big, regardless of position. Running backs fare no better than QB’s.
Which way do you see Ingram going?