Ingram Was Only Choice For Award

There are times when an award screams for a specific recipient. Thus it was this year as the Alabama Sports Writers Association voted for the 37th time on the Amateur Athlete of the Year. No one could have been surprised at the result. The only surprise is that the selection was not unanimous.

Alabama running back Mark Ingram will be honored by the ASWA at its annual awards banquet in Birmingham Sunday. He received all but two first place votes for the award (voters voted for first, second and third). Ingram's Bama teammate, Rolando McClain, was runner-up. Kentucky basketball forward DeMarcus Cousins, who is from Birmingham and played his senior high school season in Mobile, finished third.

Ingram is not the first University of Alabama athlete selected by the Sports Writers. Of the 37 honorees, 17 have been Bama stars in various sports—football, men's and women's basketball, baseball, men's golf, and gymnastics. The first two honorees were golfer Jerry Pate in 1974 and basketball star Leon Douglas in 1975.

Ingram is certainly not the only Crimson Tide football player selected. The most recent was linebacker DeMeco Ryans in 2005. Ingram is also not the only out-of-state native to be honored. Derrick Thomas, the outstanding Alabama linebacker from Miami, and David Magadan, the all-time Bama baseball star from Tampa, were among the imports.

Ingram is not even the first Heisman Trophy winner selected by the ASWA. Auburn's Bo Jackson was the 1985 winner. A little surprising is that Ingram is the first running back selected since Jackson.

In addition to Ingram and McClain, nominees included Crimson Tide athletes in baseball (Kent Matthes), softball (Charlotte Morgan), men's golf (Bud Cauley), and gymnastics (Morgan Dennis).

Ingram would have been an easy choice even had he not won the most prestigious award in sports, the Heisman Trophy, in his sophomore season.

The native of Flint, Mich., led Alabama to a 14-0 season, including a win over defending national champion Florida in the Southeastern Conference Championship Game and victory over Texas at the Rose Bowl in the Bowl Championship Series National Championship Game. Ingram was the offensive most valuable player in the national championship game as he ran for 116 yards and two touchdowns.

He set a school record with 1,658 rushing yards in 2010, adding 32 receptions and 20 total touchdowns (17 rushing, 3 receiving) in becoming the first running back to capture the Heisman and the national championship in the same season since Pittsburgh's Tony Dorsett in 1976. In addition to the Heisman, Ingram earned the Doak Walker Award as the country's top running back, was named SEC Offensive Player of the Year, and was a unanimous first-team All-America in 2009.

Ingram continued his phenomenal play through the spring, winning the Dixie Howell Award as outstanding player in the A-Day game, when he totaled 121 all-purpose yards (90 rushing, 31 receiving). He also shared the Derrick Thomas Community Service Award with offensive guard Barrett Jones.

Ingram said, "It's a great honor. It wasn't that easy. I have to thank God and family and teammates and coaches for pushing me."

The ASWA annually presents awards to the top amateur and professional (PGA golfer Stuart Cink is this year;'s winner) athletes,junior college, small college, and prep stars in football, men's and women's basketball, baseball, and softball, and also oversees the high school all-state teams.

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