MADISON - Before head coach Paul Chryst was hired, Green Bay (WI) Bay Port athlete Alec Ingold was perfectly satisfied heading to Northern Illinois to play quarterback. After the December announcement that the former Wisconsin offensive coordinator was returning to his alma mater to be the head coach, Ingold knew he finally had a chance to be a Badger.
Lightly recruited by the former coaching staff, Ingold was thrilled when Chryst and offensive coordinator Joe Rudolph carried over their relationship with him from Pittsburgh to Wisconsin, earning him a scholarship offer that he accepted soon after.
Named the 2014 Associated Press Wisconsin player of the year, not to mention being named a first-team all-state by the AP and the Wisconsin Football Coaches Association, Ingold led Bay Port to the Division 1 state semifinals after rushing for 2,324 yards (178.7 per game) and 29 touchdowns and completing 61.3 percent of his passes for 15 touchdowns as the team’s quarterback. He also played on defense, was a first-team all-conference wrester and lettered in baseball.
So while he had no real background playing defense, Ingold’s athleticism and intelligence allowed him to quickly pick up the inside linebacker role in defensive coordinator Dave Aranda’s 3-4 scheme. Not only has he shown he has a bright career for him on defense, Ingold could find himself contributing to UW’s special teams this season.
Returning for a six season, Badger Nation does a meet and greet with the newer members of the Wisconsin football team, shedding a light on some of the unknown kids that figure to be important parts of the Badgers’ future.
Asking 15 questions, we call this segment the Freshman Fifteen.
What’s been the hardest part for you adjusting to college life?
Ingold: I think that wrestling has helped me with that, because I used to go to a lot of summer camps. I would be gone from home for a few weeks at a time. Just focusing on time management skills is really tough, but the group of guys I am around is really helping keep everyone focused. We are focusing on what we need to focus on and block the distractions on.
What’s been the hardest part adjusting to college football?
Ingold: It’s mental toughness. I don’t know the entire defense. I’m not going to pretend like I know much of the defense. That’s the biggest thing. Camp is a mental grind. You wake up at 7 a.m., you do football, you go home, get some extra film study in, come back for another practice or lift, go home to get an hour to rest your mind or watch more film. It’s a grind.
Since you arrived here, how have you changed your body to prepare for the college game?
Ingold: I think I did most of the bulking up when I got here. I never really focused on protein or good nutrition but our strength coaches really brought that into play and really helped us out big time. That’s where I really put on the good weight that I needed to.
What do you think your strengths are right now where you can help this team and what your biggest areas of weaknesses?
Ingold: Strengths are that I am persistent and I’m competitive. I really don’t like to take a back seat. If I mess up I’m going to tell people I messed up and try my hardest to fix it. I am not going to get deterred from making a play the next time. Weaknesses are that I’m a new guy, so there’s a lot of growing pains. I am not fully developed as much as these guys I have to go against, especially these huge linemen that I have to beat every play. I would say that the development is just a little bit behind in terms of mentally knowing the plays and physically doing what I want to.
Besides the size, how is Madison different than your home town of Green Bay?
Ingold: A lot taller buildings. It takes some time to get all the way across town from where I live. It’s a little different, but I like it. I really haven’t been out much. I’ve been obviously focused on school and football. When I get a little more free time I’ll get a better understanding of what Madison is really like.
Do you have any idea what you want to study in college?
Ingold: I’m going to be major in civil engineering. I’m going to focus on my electives this first semester, try to understand the defense a little more and get some of the easier stuff out of the way.
What’s your favorite place on the Madison campus?
Ingold: Other than Camp Randall? I would say the Mendota Terrace. I like to go there with the guys.
What’s your least favorite place on campus?
Ingold: We had to go out to Picnic Point once. That’s a long hike and one of the freshman things I had to do was to carry the water cooler all the way down. It wasn’t a good memory for me, so maybe I can go back someday without a 20-pound cooler I am carrying.
What do you enjoy doing most in your free time when you get the chance to kick back and relax?
Ingold: The crew is Jake Whalen, Jon Dietzen, Kyle Penniston and Nick Thomas. We like to sit around and watch movies. Outside of camp, we like to go out and rent kayaks or do something to get out a little more. It’s pretty random whatever we decide to do but it’s definitely a group of guys that like to hang out together.
Who are you going to live with this fall? How are those relationships?
Ingold: Jake Whalen. We’re pretty good buds. We knew each other before we came in through football. I played him a couple times, so there’s a competitive relationship we have with each other. We have a family relationship already.
What’s the most interesting thing you’ve learn about Jake?
Ingold: He’s a pretty cool guy. He can get a little moody sometimes (laughter), but he’s a very supportive guy. We can talk about anything.
What’s your parents reaction to you playing college football here, being on your own for the first time and starting your journey at this school?
Ingold: They are supportive, and I get to call them a lot. They aren’t too far away that we can see each other every once in a while. It’s not like I’m gone until next winter break.
Where does your biggest support come from? Family? Friends? Teammates?
Ingold: My family. Being able to feel the support from the family, and the extended family that I have down here in the Madison area where I can always go and get a home-cooked meal, is pretty nice.
What was the main reason you flipped your commitment to Wisconsin?
Ingold: Football was pretty equal to me, comparing playing quarterback at Northern Illinois to linebacker here, but the overall school. It’s hard to explain, but the city of Madison and getting a quality degree walking out of it seemed like a better place for me personally and my family.
What’s the best part of being a Wisconsin football player and putting on that red and white jersey?
Ingold: It’ll be exhilarating. I really hope I can’t put it into words when I go through it because it’s something that’s definitely a dream and a goal of mind that I’ll be able to accomplish. I really hope I feel a sense of pride when it happens.