Meyer Very Pleased With Ingram's Progress

A year ago he was working as the third string quarterback, showing great feet and a strong arm even though he was struggling to pick up Coach Urban Meyer's spread option offense. A year later and he's lining up at wide receiver, tight end and H-back, playing like he's been there all his life not like a newbie to the position. The surprise of the spring is Cornelius Ingram who not only has found a position but looks like he's going to be a star.

Whether he's working from a down position on the line or running routes from the wideout position, Ingram has consistently proven to be a reliable target for quarterbacks Chris Leak and Tim Tebow. He shows the ability to get open consistently and he's proving to be sure-handed. More importantly, he has no problems making catches in traffic.

"Cornelius Ingram is doing a heckuva job," said Coach Urban Meyer. "Right now he's the best receiver on the Gator football team."

Ingram has filled a void in a receiver corps that is without Bubba Caldwell (non-contact this spring) and is slowed by minor injuries to seniors Dallas Baker and Jemalle Cornelius. The injury situation opens the door for some of the younger receivers to step up but other than Ingram, Meyer says nobody is showing any consistency.

"David (Nelson), (Nyan) Boateng and Louis Murphy have to step up and they haven't so far," said Meyer. "One of those three young guys have to step up and we have four or five of them [freshman wide receivers] coming in June."

Injury problems at wide receiver and at running back have slowed down the offense. At running back, Kestahn Moore (back) is out for the spring and Markus Manson (concussion) is day to day, leaving only oft-injured DeShawn Wynn and walkon Antonio Gay to carry that load.

Meyer admitted he's been "disappointed in the running backs" but the offense, as a whole, has had a good spring. Even though the defense stepped it up in Monday's practice, Meyer has been pleased with the overall effort on offense. In particular, he's happy with what he's seeing from senior quarterback Chris Leak, enough so that he thinks the offense will be good in the fall.

"We'll be fine," said Meyer. "Chris Leak is going to be fine. He wasn't sharp today but he's had a terrific spring. He's way ahead of where he was last year."

BUBBA UPDATE: Wide receiver Bubba Caldwell will not take any contact this spring but he's showing bursts of speed and moves in the secondary that are indicative that he's getting closer to where he was before he broke his leg in game three against Tennessee last fall. He's wearing a no contact jersey but he's running routes in full gear.

"We're being really smart with him," said Meyer. "We just need him back but we're not going to scrimmage him."

Prior to his injury, Caldwell had carried five times for 64 yards and one touchdown and he had 10 pass receptions for 148 yards.

CORNERBACK POSITION: Asked about depth at the cornerback position behind starters Avery Atkins and Reggie Lewis, Meyer responded, "We don't have any." Injuries to backups Tremaine McCollum (dinged up) and Jermaine McCollum (broken wrist) leaves the depth situation paper thin and that's a concern.

"(Lamont) Sheppard did a nice job today … really did a good job today," said Meyer. "We're actually working (safety) Nick Brooks out there but he's not a corner. Then you have three [true freshmen in June] coming in so we have a little issue there but the two starters Avery and Reggie are doing a heckuva job."

If either Atkins or Lewis went down with an injury, the next option would be to move Reggie Nelson from free safety to corner.

"He's our next guy, he's the free safety right now," said Meyer. "He also plays the down position in the nickel which is a lot of corner technique, man to man guy. Reggie Lewis, Reggie Nelson and Avery Atkins are having terrific springs."

OFFENSIVE LINE: Although the defense dominated most of the day Monday, Meyer continued to see what he's looking for from the offensive linemen. He is getting a lot of leadership from senior center Steve Rissler and the other four members of the starting five --- guards Jim Tartt and Ronnie Wilson and tackles Phil Trautwein and Drew Miller --- are showing signs that they'll be a cohesive unit in the fall.

Rissler, Miller and Tartt all got starts at guard last year and Trautwein spent the year backing up Lance Butler at right tackle. Wilson, a true freshman last year, took a red-shirt.

"They know the system," said Meyer. "The only thing they're lacking is experience. It's not like it's a new system. I would rather have young guys playing in the system for the second year than a bunch of guys who've been around playing in an old system that have to adapt to a new one. I think we're going to be right on schedule but we have no depth. But, I think the first five are going to be fine."

INJURIES ON DEFENSE: Because of the injury situation on the defensive side of the ball, Meyer is getting some much needed reps for some of the backups, particularly on the line where Clint McMillan continues to stand out this spring.

"McMillan doing a really good job because Marcus Thomas (back, hernia) is really limited right now," said Meyer. "He has a little hernia situation that's probably going to be surgical so he's maybe got one more practice left and then we're pulling him for the spring. Then obviously you have Steve Harris (personal issues) and Ray McDonald (recovering from ACL surgery). There are some good players that aren't going right now."

Meyer added that he likes the intensity he's seeing on defense and added "We're starting to get a little depth."

GOOD TEAM CHEMISTRY: Last spring Meyer had some issues with a few players that weren't really giving heart and soul to the team, something that was more or less expected since it was the first spring practice for a brand new coaching staff. This spring, those issues are distant memories.

"Our coaches feel much better than they ever have about the chemistry on the team," said Meyer. "There's no resistance. It's a lot of fun coaching this team right now."

He likes the leadership he's seeing from players like Dallas Baker, Billy Latsko and Brandon Siler. Last season, he got the leadership from three seniors ---Vernell Brown, Jarvis Herring and Jeremy Mincey --- and that carried the Gators through some tough times.

"Those three were the heart and soul," said Meyer. "I made a comment speaking to one of the Gator Clubs that this team, in the middle of the season, I would compare a little bit to when our basketball team was struggling, got hit in the face a little bit, lost three in a row or something like that and had a chance to cave in against LSU. Our [football] team had a chance to cave in and those three seniors did a heckuva job bringing it back to beat FSU and then win a bowl game. Those three guys on defense are the ones that did it."


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