Historic Heisman: Ingram first to win trophy for the Tide
- Cecil Hurt
December 13, 2009
NEW YORK - It was only fitting that Mark Ingram won the 2009 Heisman
Trophy in the closest race ever.
Mark Ingram became the first Alabama football player in history to
win the Heisman Trophy.
- AP Photo/Tuscaloosa News Photos
Now, it has carried him into the history books.
“I’m a little overwhelmed right now,” said Ingram, who broke into
tears on the podium at New York’s Nokia Theater. He said later, at a
post-award news conference, that it was the sight of his mother,
Shonda Ingram, crying in the audience that “just got to me.”
“My family has been through a lot, and I wanted to do this for them
and for my teammates,” Ingram said.
Ingram said he talked to his father two days ago, but will
not get to visit him while in New York and show him the famous trophy
he won on Saturday night.
“I know he is proud of me, and I owe him a lot,” Ingram said. “He was
tough on me growing up. When we played basketball, he would always
block my shot. He wouldn’t let me win. When we had a race, he would
run faster. He wouldn’t let me win. But it made me the competitor I
“I love him to death. He’s real proud of me.”
The genuine emotion of Ingram’s acceptance speech was obvious on
“At first, I was really calm, kind of relaxed,” he said. “But then my
heart started beating faster, I saw my mom crying and I sort of broke
“When I was shaking hands with the other winners, I was kind of in a
daze. It was a crazy feeling.”
Ingram finished with 227 first-place votes and 1,304 total votes,
beating out Stanford running back Toby Gerhart in the tight voting.
Gerhart had just five fewer first-place votes (222) and finished
ahead of Texas quarterback Colt McCoy, Nebraska defensive tackle
Ndamukong Suh and the 2007 winner, Florida quarterback Tim Tebow.
Tebow said he tried to help Ingram deal with the emotions that were
clearly weighing on him going into the ceremony.
“I’m a realist,” Tebow said. “I was pretty sure I wasn’t going to win.
But I saw that Mark was really nervous and I asked him if he wanted
to pray and he did. So we found a private room and we prayed, just
the two of us. We prayed for him to find peace, not for someone to
win the trophy.”
Gerhart, the Stanford senior tailback who nearly became one of the
dark-horse surprises in Heisman history, said there were “no hard
feelings” towards Ingram despite the narrowness of the victory.
“The first time I got to see (Mark) play was when I watched him on TV
in the SEC (Championship) game,” Gerhard said. “I love the way he
plays. I love his passion. He’s a physical guy. I’m a physical guy.
He breaks a lot of tackles and he carried his team on his back.”
Ingram ran for a school-record 1,542 yards this season, scoring 15
rushing touchdowns this season for the No. 1 Crimson Tide. He also
caught 30 passes for 322 yards and three more scores.
But UA head coach Nick Saban, who was on hand along with UA assistant
coaches Jim McElwain and Burton Burns, said Ingram’s unselfishness
was, ironically, a key to his Heisman win.
“We played three backs a lot of the time, not just Mark but Trent
Richardson and Roy Upchurch as well,” Saban said.
“Coach Saban had everything to do with this Heisman win,” Ingram said.
“From the time he was recruiting me, I knew he was a special guy. He
Ingram said his focus will quickly shift away from his win and back
to Alabama’s upcoming BCS title date with Texas on Jan. 7, 2010.
“I’m going to dedicate all my energy to that now,” Ingram said.