Mark Ingram Wins Heisman Trophy

Mark Ingram of the University of Alabama was selected as the 75th winner of the Heisman Memorial Trophy as the Most Outstanding College Football Player in the United States for 2009.

Ingram won the award over Toby Gerhart of Stanford by only 28 points in the closest finish in the 75 year history of the Heisman. Previously, the closest race was in 1985 when Bo Jackson defeated Chuck Long by just 45 points.

Michael Comerford, of the Heisman Trophy Trust, which annually presents the Heisman Memorial Trophy Award, announced the selection of Ingram on Saturday evening, December 12th, on a nationally televised ESPN sports special live from the Nokia Theatre in Times Square. The victory for the 5’10”, 215-pound Ingram marks the first time a member of the Crimson Tide has won the Heisman Trophy.

Ingram, of Flint, MI, has rushed 249 times for 1,542 yards (6.2 yards per carry) with 15 touchdowns while catching 30 passes for 322 yards and an additional 3 touchdowns. His rushing total established a single season record at Alabama. While leading the Crimson Tide to an undefeated (13-0) regular season and a No.1 National ranking, Ingram was named the AP Offensive Player of the Year and the SEC Offensive Player of the Year. Additionally, Ingram led Alabama to a berth in the BCS Championship Game on January 7th against Texas where he will face off against fellow Heisman finalist, Colt McCoy.

Ballots were mailed to 870 media personnel across the nation plus 55 Heisman winners and one fan ballot, for a total of 926 electors. The ballots are received and tabulated by the independent accounting firm of Deloitte & Touche LLP. Ingram polled 1,304 points to capture the award over Toby Gerhart of Stanford (1,276 points), Colt McCoy of Texas (1,145 points), Ndamukong Suh (815 points) and the 2007 Heisman winner, Tim Tebow of Florida (390 points). The point total is reached by a system of three points for a first place vote, two for a second and one for a third.

Alabama tailback Mark Ingram joined Crimson Tide Coach Nick Saban’s team two years ago as expectations were beginning to rise. Fans wanted a 13th national title and a 22nd Southeastern Conference championship. Ingram knew little about the past, but felt he could contribute to both ends.

After helping the top-ranked Tide to an SEC title last weekend and a berth in the Bowl Championship Series title game against No. 2 Texas on Jan. 7, Ingram, a sophomore, became the storied program’s first Heisman Trophy winner Saturday night. No previous Alabama player had finished higher than third in the voting.

“I guess they’ll put the trophy in one of those cases we have with all the national titles in it,” Ingram said.

Ingram received 1,304 total votes in the closest contest in the award’s 75-year history, beating Stanford running back Toby Gerhart by 28 points. He was the third consecutive sophomore to win the award. The closest previous race was in 1985, when Auburn’s Bo Jackson beat Iowa’s Chuck Long by 45 points.

After hugging family members and Saban, Ingram appeared overwhelmed and wept.

Alabama’s athletic director, Mal Moore, said, “I think that was just about the best acceptance emotion I’ve seen.”

In leading Alabama to a 13-0 season, Ingram, a first-year starter, shrugged off tacklers for Saban’s well-oiled offense. His 118.6 rushing yards a game ranked 12th in the nation, but he totaled 1,542 rushing yards as the best player on the top team. “These types of awards typically come with team success,” Saban said.

Ingram’s campaign also drew attention off the field. His father, Mark Sr., a former Giants wide receiver, is being held at the Queens Private Correctional Facility. The prison is located across the East River from the ceremony, which was held at the Nokia Theatre in Times Square.

When Alabama running back Mark Ingram became his school's first Heisman Trophy winner Saturday night, you could almost hear the faint sound of applause coming from a Queens jail cell five miles away.

Ingram's father Mark - a hero for the Giants in Super Bowl XXV - is serving a 92-month sentence for money laundering and bank fraud.

Ingram did not have a chance to visit his father this trip and has no idea when he will see him again. But he said the two talk regularly, the last time two nights ago.

"I love him to death," an emotional Ingram said upon receiving the trophy in the closest Heisman race ever. "He's happy for me. He's real proud of me. He's not really surprised because he always told me there was no other running back better than me.

"I'm sure he's going through some tough times, but I'm sure he has something to look forward to and be proud of."

The older Ingram is best known for a critical third-down play in the Super Bowl, as he eluded five Bills defenders for a first down that helped lift the Giants to a 20-19 victory. He is in a holding facility in Queens, awaiting a hearing that could extend his sentence, according to his court-appointed attorney Jack Neville, because he did not report to federal prison in Ashland, Ky., in December 2008.

An arrest warrant was issued, and the older Ingram was captured in a Michigan motel room on Jan.2, hours before his son was set to play against Utah in the Sugar Bowl.

Ingram wanted to stay in a holding cell so he could watch his son play in the SEC title game last Saturday against Florida.

The younger Ingram, a 5-10, 215-pound sophomore, may have won this award that day when he rushed for 113 yards and scored three TDs. He caught a screen pass that he turned into a spectacular 69-yard gain to set up his own 3-yard TD run as No. 2 Alabama defeated the then top-ranked Gators, 32-13, to earn a date in the BCS title game against fellow unbeaten Texas, Jan. 7 at Pasadena.

The fact that only 6% of the voters filled out their ballots before the conference championship games certainly helped Ingram's cause. While Texas quarterback Colt McCoy and Florida quarterback Tim Tebow - two of the three finalists from last season - stumbled on the big stage, Ingram made a lasting and powerful impression, overcoming the fact he rushed for only 30 yards a week earlier when he suffered a hip pointer during a 26-21 victory over state rival Auburn.

Ingram finished with 227 first-place votes and 1,304 points, beating out Stanford running back Toby Gerhart in a tight race. Gerhart had 222 first-place votes and finished ahead of McCoy, Nebraska defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh and Tebow.

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