Chris Pressley. Bradie Ewing. Derek Watt. Austin Ramesh.
All four fullbacks contributed significantly to Wisconsin’s offense under the direction of Paul Chryst. The first three found their way to the NFL, while Ramesh is the latest to test the waters of professional football after a successful Badger career and impressive pro day performance.
Now a senior heading into the 2018 season, Alec Ingold takes over as the starting fullback. Though he has experienced his fair share of snaps and success through his first three seasons in Madison, he’s looking to find more ways to help an offense stockpiled with playmakers.
“I think this spring has been good, just being able to step into a starting role day after day,” Ingold said on Tuesday. “I know I’ve been the starter for spring ball like the past three years just because guys have been dinged up, whatever, but just being able to go with the ‘ones’ and having the confidence rolling through to the season, I’m trying to build my role, trying to diversify the portfolio, get more plays here, there, whatever.”
Ingold started his Wisconsin career in 2015 as an inside linebacker during fall camp after claiming the 2014 Gatorade State Player of the Year award and first-team all-state honors by the Associated Press and Wisconsin Football Coaches Association (WFCA) as a quarterback for Bay Port High School in Green Bay. Accustomed to making plays with the ball in his hands after finishing his prep career with a combined 89 touchdowns (61 rushing, 28 passing), Ingold then transitioned to tailback with injuries to Corey Clement and Taiwan Deal in Chryst’s first season as Badgers head coach. He proceeded to score six touchdowns in 10 games as a true freshman.
Ingold has played fullback the past two seasons, scoring four touchdowns each year while being utilized, like Ramesh, in goal-line and short-yardage situations.
“He’s done a great job kind of making the transition,” Ramesh told B5Q on Wednesday. “He was similar to me where he got the football a lot in high school and he had a lot of yards, a lot of touchdowns. Even his freshman year when he got to Madison, he scored a lot of touchdowns as well, but he’s done a great job of seeing what the role of the fullback is at Wisconsin. We pride ourselves on being good run blockers and pass blockers, keeping guys off our tailbacks and off the quarterback there.
Through 38 career games, Ingold has carried the ball 77 times for 200 yards with 11 rushing touchdowns, along with recording nine receptions for 92 yards and three touchdown catches. When talking about that versatility, he borrows from his principal off-field focus: his studies as a personal finance major.
“If I need to be a running back for a situation, I want to be able to do that without a hitch in the giddy up,” Ingold said. “Splitting out to wide receiver just to run a route for a guy, I want to be able to be that guy, just making everything a smooth transition because I’ve been working on I-formation fullback blocking inside for however long now. I’m really just trying to—special teams, too—make everything kind of smooth over. I think that’s kind of my job right now.”
Replacing Ramesh will be a tough task for the Wisconsin offense considering his skills as a lead blocker, short-yardage rusher, and a receiving option. But last season, when Ramesh missed the Indiana game due to a head injury. Ingold filled in more than admirably, scoring three touchdowns (two rushing, one receiving) in a 45–17 victory in Bloomington.
Ingold envisions his role expanding further.
“Austin, he was kind of filling that tight end role, like third tight end. I’m trying to go third tight end, running back, wide receiver,” Ingold said. “I’ve learned so much from Austin the past year and doing that all last year kind of in the background, kind of got a good feel for it.
“So it’s just taking steps forward and trying to get out of the comfort zone, whether it’s 2nd-and-short and need a running back, “Alright, I’m running in there.’ If you need a wide receiver way out if no one’s up, I’m in. Just being able to know the offense and just being able to mix up the playbook a little bit so they can’t always see ‘45’ run in, it’s going to be a run for 3rd-and-1, or whatever, so that’s what I’m trying to do.”
Ingold moved to running back coach John Settle’s room to focus on some running back responsibilities but also still works with tight ends coach MIckey Turner for other work. “I want to be able to do both and be a guy that can fix a lot of stuff for our offense,” Ingold says.
Indeed, it appears that mindset is paying off.
“I would say Alec has just completely taken ownership of that role and he’s the oldest guy in that room,” quarterback Alex Hornibrook said on Tuesday. “He’s just in control. He knows exactly what he’s doing, he knows what other people are doing, and it’s been a big spring for him.”
Behind Ingold at fullback is a young and inexperienced group new to the position. Redshirt freshman walk-on Jake Collinsworth moved to the position from inside linebacker, like Ingold before him. Though fellow redshirt freshman walk-on Coy Wanner is still listed as a tight end, it has appeared during some spring practices that he is receiving looks in the backfield in a fullback-type role as well.
As the face of the present for Wisconsin fullbacks, Ingold knows he can help mold the next generation of those tasked to perform many responsibilities within the offense.
“I think this spring is huge for them just to be able to kind of know what to do,” Ingold said. “They’re kind of in that stage of, ‘Alright, where am I going?’ Then this whole summer, I can work with these guys, and coach Settle obviously, work with them about how you’re going to do it, just refining technique.
“So I think for the spring, seeing them understand the playbook is huge, then throughout the summer and then into the fall camp, they’ll be working on the how, and we’ll all be working together.”