"I actually came in as a 6'3" 185 pound running back," explained Ingram. "After two practices, the coaches made a quick decision for me to switch positions because they felt like I had the ability to play college ball at receiver. I earned a scholarship to Middle Tennessee and played for Andy McCollum, who is now the defensive line coach at Georgia Tech."
Ingram was named a starter for two seasons, but had both seasons end very early due to injury. "It wasn't the career I looked for because I was injured a lot," he explained. "I learned a lot. I got into the playbooks. They say injured players make good coaches. It's something I always wanted to do. I just didn't know the right path. We had a lot of coaches come through Middle Tennessee during that time period that motivated me and helped me get into coaching."
Middle Tennessee went to the Motor City Bowl in 2006, Ingram's senior year. Assistant coach Larry Kirksey, now with the Houston Texans, helped Ingram prepare for the transition from being a player to getting into the coaching world. "We got back from the bowl game and he set down with me and that weekend started putting me in the right direction," said Ingram. "That summer, I got a job at a Division 3 school, Cortland State, coaching receivers. It was an amazing experience because I was the equipment guy, the receivers coach, the recruiting coordinator, the travel liaison, and I was the guy that picked up the sandwiches after the games. It made me be hands on. After two years there, our offensive coordinator took a job at Texas A&M Commerce. I took the position as recruiting coordinator and receivers coach. After going through the spring semester, I got a call from the head coach from Villanova. I was at Texas A&M commerce for six months and helped them sign the first recruiting class under Guy Morriss. I took the Tight Ends job at Villanova . Coach Morriss said I needed to go and get the Division one experience. It ended up being a really good situation."
If you call winning a national championship a good situation, you might agree with Ingram. "It worked out perfect," admitted Ingram. "We ended up winning the national championship. That whole process just worked out. I was watching from the outside when the previous staff here left to go to Tennessee."
Coaching is all about relationships when it comes to getting jobs and with recruiting. In both cases, summer camps are a big part of the process. "At the beginning of my first year at Cortland State, I went to Troy, AL to work a summer camp called The System for Coach (Tony) Franklin," said Ingram. "I went down, coached as hard as I could, and motivated kids. The guys that we were coaching at the time weren't the best athletes. If I could motivate this kid and teach this kid to do it the correct way, and I can help him become a great football player by just coaching details and techniques, then that makes me feel like I'm a good coach."
Ingram went on to describe how he used his camp experience to develop contacts in the coaching world. "I started developing relationships with a lot of Coach Franklin's close friends and coaches that he associates with," he explained. "It turned in to a situation where I was doing that every summer. The opportunity came up when Coach Dykes hired Tony and the running backs position was still open. Tony asked around and consulted with people that he trusts and he says to this day that my name was the first name that came up."
Along with coaching the running backs, one of Ingram's main jobs is recruiting in New Orleans. His territory includes the city of New Orleans and across South Louisiana, through Terrebonne and Houma, to Lafayette. His territory stops in Lafayette and picks back up in Beaumont. In Texas, he has from Beaumont, to the city of Houston and everything down to Galveston. Ingram talked about his philosophy when it comes to recruiting. "I feel you have to relate first of all and be trusted, especially in New Orleans. The first thing I want to do is let them know who I am. I want them to understand I went through the same process. We have a new staff here and we aren't going anywhere. I'm not going to recruit a kid and be gone within a year. I know how that feels. Larry Fedora recruited me to Middle Tennessee and he was gone before I got there. That's big with kids in New Orleans and in Houston. Their looking for that security and I think their coaches pick up on that as well."
"The philosophy of this team speaks for itself," added Ingram. "It's family up here. On offense or defense, you can be great at any position. There is no position I can't recruit. We're not running the Wing-T. We can use a spread quarterback or a dual threat. If you're a big running back or a smaller back, we have a place for you. If you're a smaller receiver, we're going to put you in the slot and let you make plays. If you're a long, rangy receiver that likes to make plays outside, then we have a spot for you as well."
Coach Ingram talked about what he looks for in a running back. "I'm looking for vision," he said. "With our offense, everything happens so fast. You have to be able to see what's going on at any time. Most people see Roosevelt Falls as a fullback. Roosevelt has quick twitch for his size. When I've been out recruiting I've seen guys the size of Roosevelt Falls and I've seen guys the size of Lyle Fitte. Everything depends on how quick they can get moving. We want someone who is shifty and the most important thing is he has to be able to catch the ball out of the backfield. Also, in our offense, he has to be able to pass protect."
Louisiana Tech has a talented group of running backs for Ingram to work with. "Lyle is a guy that we see like a Dexter McCluster from Ole Miss," compared Ingram. "He works extremely hard in the weight room. We can put him in the backfield or in the slot. He worked really hard in the spring to get better. We have a good rotation to keep everyone fresh. Their work ethic is amazing. They want to win. Creer is, in every definition of the word, a complete back. He has the size and the physical and natural ability. He's developing that want to be great. The sky is the limit for him. Ray (Holley) is a guy that has it all, but you can't see it. He's stronger than he looks. He's faster than he looks. He's very deceiving. He gets on the field and you don't know what he's going to do until it's done and you have no chance to get back to him. He does a really good job in pass protection and catching the ball. All of our backs complement each other real well. They all have to pass protect, catch the ball out of the backfield, and pick up the blitz. Running the ball comes last. They've been running the ball since grade school; they know how to do that."
Coach Ingram wants to make playing running back at Louisiana Tech fun. He said running the ball should be fun, blocking should be fun, and catching the ball should be fun. Lyle Fitte likes what his new coach brings to the table. "He brings a swagger," said the sophomore running back from South Plaquemines High School. "He makes it easy for us to relate to him. Coach Ingram is a younger coach so he went through what we are going through. At the same time, he is a winner and he knows how to teach us. It's fun for us to go out there and practice and get better every day."
Louisiana Tech has gained significant ground in the New Orleans recruiting world in recent years. Lyle Fitte, was a top area recruit just two years ago when he led South Plaquemines to a State Championship. "They're going to love him," Fitte said about Coach Ingram. "He's a very likable person and he's trustworthy. You can trust that he's going to do what he says."
Louisiana Tech definitely hired a rising star in the business when Pierre Ingram came on board. Look for big things out of Coach Ingram at Louisiana Tech.