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August 9, 2010

Notebook: Ingram practices, reminisces and named to watch lists

TUSCALOOSA _ University of Alabama running back Mark Ingram returned to practice Monday after being excused for two days to attend his grandfather's funeral in Michigan.

While the rest of the Crimson Tide wore pads for the first time in camp he had on shells like he would have the first day he missed.

"I did everything that the team did," Ingram said. "I just had shorts on."

In his first interview since camp opened, Ingram took a little time to reminisce with reporters about Arthur Johnson, who was 75.

"It was tough," he said. "This is my time it was someone in my family. He was special person. I know he'd want me here practicing and getting ready for the season because that's what he always looked forward to."

Ingram left the team early Friday and spoke to the congregation during Saturday's service, while also serving as a pallbearer. He described Nick Saban and the Alabama coaches as encouraging and received numerous messages from teammates during the trip.

Johnson, a former standout athlete himself, was a big part of Ingram's life while he was growing up, taking him to practices and games and frequently offered advice.

"He taught me how to compete," Ingram said.

One of his favorite memories, though, was his grandfather's reaction after winning the Heisman Trophy.

"He was the happiest dude ever," Ingram reflected. "We were taking pictures and stuff and he was talking in the middle of the pictures, so we have pictures and he's just running his mouth. He was smiling, grabbing the trophy like it was his. He had three daughters so I guess I was like a son to him.

"He's like my second father."

Johnson called his grandson, "Big Dog."

Keep an eye on them

Numerous Alabama players were named to watch lists for some of the most prominent awards in college football Monday.

Ingram was named to the watch list for the Walter Camp Award, which goes to the most outstanding player.

He was also named to the watch list for the Maxwell Award, along with wide receiver Julio Jones and quarterback Greg McElroy. The Maxwell has honored the top collegiate football player since 1937 and is named in honor of sportswriter Robert W. "Tiny" Maxwell.

Mark Barron, Marcell Dareus and Dont'a Hightower were named to the watch list for the Chuck Bednarik Award, which has been presented to the nation's top defensive player since 1995.

Semifinalists for the Maxwell and Bednarik awards will be announced on Nov. 8, with the finalists revealed Nov. 22. Ingram was a finalist for the Camp and Maxwell last year, but Alabama has never won either award or the Walter Camp.

"It's great to be up for awards, and it's great to win awards, but if you don't take care of home first nothing else really matters," Ingram said. "As long as I go out there and play the best I can play and the team wins everything else will take care of itself."

Incidentally, Ingram believes he's already a better player than last year and better student of defenses.

"There's always room for improvement," he said.

Here's the watch list rundown:
Bednarik Award (defensive player): Mark Barron, Marcell Dareus and Dont'a Hightower named to watch list. Semifinalists named Nov. 8.
Fred Biletnikoff Award (wide receiver): Watch list announced Aug. 10.
Butkus Award (linebacker): Watch list announced Aug. 16 (Rolando McClain reigning winner).
Walter Camp Award (Player of the year): Mark Ingram named to watch list. Semifinalists announced Nov. 16.
William Campbell Trophy (scholar-athlete, formerly known as the Draddy Trophy): Semifinalists announced Sept. 30.
Lou Groza Award (kicker): Watch list announced Aug. 20.
Ray Guy Award (punter): Watch list announced Aug. 11.
Heisman Trophy: Finalists announced Dec. 6 (Mark Ingram reigning winner).
Ted Hendricks Award (defensive end): Watch list TBA.
Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year: Finalists TBA.
Rotary Lombardi Award (lineman): Watch list announced Aug. 20.
Lott Trophy (defensive impact player): Mark Barron on watch list.
John Mackey Award (tight end): Watch list announced Aug. 16.
Maxwell Award (outstanding player): Mark Ingram, Julio Jones and Greg McElroy named to watch list. Semifinalists named Nov. 8.
Bronko Nagurski Award (defensive player): Mark Barron, Marcell Dareus and Dont'a Hightower on watch list. Finalists announced Nov. 18.
Davey O'Brien Award (quarterback): Greg McElroy on watch list. Semifinalists announced Oct. 25.
Outland Trophy (interior lineman): James Carpenter and Barrett Jones on watch list. Finalists announced Nov. 21.
Rimington Trophy (center): Watch list announced Aug. 27.
Jim Thorpe Award (defensive back): Mark Barron named to watch list. Semifinalists announced November.
Unitas Golden Arm (senior quarterback): Greg McElroy on watch list.
Doak Walker Award (running back): Watch list announced Aug. 23.

Coaching awards
Paul "Bear" Bryant Award: Watch list TBA.
Broyles Award (assistant coach): Finalists announced Nov. 28 (Kirby Smart reigning winner).
Bobby Bowden Coach of the Year Award: Finalists TBA (Nick Saban reigning winner).
George Munger Award: Semifinalists announced Nov. 8.
Home Depot Coach of the Year: Finalists TBA.
Joe Paterno Award: Semifinalists announced Sept. 30
Eddie Robinson Award: Finalists announced Nov. 24.
Amos Alonzo Stagg Coach of the Year Award: Finalists TBA (Nick Saban reigning winner).
Walter Camp Coach of the Year: TBA.
AFCA Coach of the Year: TBA.
Bobby Dodd Coach of the Year: TBA.

Injury/roster report

Although a couple of players got a little banged up during Fan Day, no one wore black during Monday's workout and there appeared to be no new significant injuries.

Safety Kendall Kelly remained out after having heat-related issues during his first practice Thursday night. It appeared that Hunter Bush was added to the 105-man roster and practiced in his place.

Tide-bits

Ingram set the record straight about his famous gloves shot after scoring a touchdown in the national championship game. "I just liked the gloves, I was just showing the 'A.' A lot of the guys had them, they make special stuff like that us for the bowl games. We'll all get different gloves and different cleats than we had for the season. I just liked those gloves and thought everyone should see them." The pair he wore ripped, but Ingram has another pair set aside.

Ingram on Tim Tebow's haircut from Denver teammates giving him the friar look: "I'm going to have to text him about that," he finally said after laughing. But when asked if he might someday get similar treatment: "They aren't touching my head. I'll go get some donuts and I'll carry pads off the field, but don't touch my head."

Monday was one of the hottest days yet for players as the temperature was 96 degrees during practice with a heat index of 105. The first full-squad two-a-day will be Tuesday, with the morning session at 9:30 a.m. and players returning to the field at 7:30 p.m. The Crimson Tide, except Ingram, will be in pads in the morning and shorts for the evening. All practices are closed to the public.


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