As post-season honors have rolled out over the course of the week, Melvin Ingram has been one of the players who has been frequently honored. He has consistently shown up on All-SEC lists, All-American lists, and finalist lists for defensive-lineman awards.
Ingram's success should be recognized by Gamecocks fans for a variety of reasons. First of all, it's good for the program to have players getting these kinds of accolades. No doubt, it's a common recruiting tactic by our rivals to tell top recruits that they can't come to South Carolina and be stars. We laugh now when we think about Lane Kiffin telling Alshon Jeffery that he would end up pumping gas if he came to Carolina, but there was a modicum of truth to the comment--we haven't had a lot of nationally-recognized stars here over the years. I would also imagine that it's only one of the more egregious examples of something that many of our recruits hear some form of. Things have changed in the last few years, though. Eric Norwood, Marcus Lattimore, Jeffery, and now Ingram have been honored as being among the country's best players. Star recruits like Jonathan Bullard see these things and think that they can come here and be stars, too. The negative recruiting tactics lose their effect when the reality becomes what it is now, much like Dabo's nonsense about the history of our rivalry came off as hot air because it came off the heels of a third straight tail-whipping.
What I particularly like about Ingram, though, is how he got to this point. Ingram was a fairly highly touted player coming out of high school, but he wasn't the kind of uber-hyped player we see in Lattimore or Jeffery. In fact, his only other offers came from UNC, NC State, and ECU. It took him a few years to find his way. He wasn't a major player on the defense until 2009, and he didn't come into his own until 2010, and even then, he had to have had the quietest nine-sack season one can imagine. Again this year, he was considered an important cog in our defensive line, but most of the hype went to Devin Taylor and Jadeveon Clowney. The rest, of course, is history; Ingram ended up the guy being in on most the big plays throughout the season. His story says a lot about what a player can do if he keeps at it and continues to develop over the course of the his career. He may not have been as heralded as others, but Ingram improved incrementally each year and eventually found his way to stardom. That's quite an accomplishment, and one he'll be remembered for around here for a long time.