We are less than a month away from the Wisconsin Badgers starting up fall camp, and the 2018 edition of this team could continue to make its presence known not just in the Big Ten Conference but also in the College Football Playoff conversation.
As we count down the days until the pads and helmets are back on, this series is dedicated to the players fans should keep an eye on—regardless of if they’re already household names.
Wisconsin’s rich history of running backs has widely been attributed to the success of its offensive line, but it should also be linked to the success of the Badgers’ fullbacks. In recent seasons, Derek Watt and Austin Ramesh have led the charge out of the backfield and both have found their way onto NFL rosters, Watt with the Chargers and Ramesh as an undrafted free agent by the Cardinals, though the latter the recently announced his retirement.
In 2018, a familiar player will insert his name into the long list of talented starting fullbacks: senior Alec Ingold.
Why Alec Ingold is worth watching in 2018
To be blunt, Ingold is a beast in the offensive backfield. The Green Bay native has been doing nothing but scoring touchdowns since he arrived on campus. In three seasons in cardinal and white, Ingold has scored just about every six times he touches the ball, with 86 career touches (77 rushes, nine receptions) and 14 career touchdowns (11 rushing, three receiving).
As a true freshman in 2015, Ingold moved from inside linebacker to running back following injuries to Corey Clement and Taiwan Deal. He scored six touchdowns in 10 games. As a sophomore, he moved to fullback, split time with Ramesh, and still continued to produce with limited touches.
With Ramesh’s graduation, Wisconsin lost a very talented fullback, one that made an impact not only as a blocker but also as a short-yardage rusher and as a receiver.
“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 told B5Q back in the spring. “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 [we] 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 [and think] it’s going to be a run for 3rd-and-1 or whatever.”
Last season, Ramesh missed Wisconsin’s 45–17 win at Indiana and Ingold had himself a day filling in as the starting fullback, scoring three touchdowns (two rushing, one receiving). He carried four times for six yards and his one reception went for 18 yards and a score.
While Ingold’s production typically hasn’t come through the air, he is likely to see plenty of snaps in short-yardage spots, especially on the goal line. As Ingold told B5Q during spring practices, he wants to “diversify his portfolio” in the roles he has for this team:
“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.”
As mentioned, over the past two seasons, Ingold split time with Ramesh. This season, Ingold will be the bellwether fullback with two redshirt freshmen behind him: Jake Collinsworth—who, like Ingold, moved from linebacker to fullback—and Coy Wanner, who saw time at tight end and fullback this spring. Walk-on true freshman John Chenal said in an Instagram video earlier this summer that he was a fullback as well.