Tom Herman’s first full recruiting cycle in Austin netted the Texas Longhorns just one running back prospect, but he’s the very best the state has to offer and officially a member of the burnt orange nation, as Carthage product Keaontay Ingram signed with the ‘Horns on Wednesday.
A four-star talent out of East Texas, a remarkable junior campaign placed Ingram among the nation’s most prized running back prospects and when it was all said and done, he had 30 offers to choose from. Florida State, Georgia, Notre Dame, Ohio State and Oklahoma were among the many, and Auburn, LSU, USC and Michigan each continued to push down the stretch as Ingram left the door slightly open.
The biggest scare came when Ingram took a quiet official visit to Texas A&M in January and then hosted new Aggies head coach Jimbo Fisher on an in-home visit. However, Ingram claimed that he never wavered in an interview with the Austin American-Statesman.
In the end, it was all about signing with his teammates.
“We all want to celebrate it together,” Ingram said. “I don’t know. I might not get to see them again, especially some of the people I grew up with. From what I hear, college is nothing like the people you grew up with. I mean, you’re going to meet new friends in college, but it won’t be like the people you grew up with. We were thinking why not all sign together, make it one big special deal? That’s what we agreed upon, and that’s what we did.”
Fortunately for the 'Horns, Texas is home and in Austin, Ingram will suit up for a running backs coach in Stan Drayton, whom Ingram has raved of his relationship with on numerous occasions.
Although he won’t arrive until the summer, when Ingram does step foot on the Forty Acres, he’ll do so as quite arguably the most complete back on the roster. After essentially being required to transition from running back to tight end, Chris Warren III has elected to transfer from Texas, and after an underwhelming 2017 effort, Kyle Porter will almost surely enter spring football behind the strength and speed combination that is Daniel Young and Toneil Carter.
In Ingram, Texas gets a bit of the best of both backs.
At 6’1 and 187 pounds, Ingram presents fairly solid size for this stage in his physical progression and the fact that he’ll have eight months to add muscle that that frame between now and the season opener will allow Ingram to do what he does best — remain on the field. A true every-down back, Ingram was an absolute workhorse for Carthage throughout the past two seasons, leading the Tigers to back-to-back state championships courtesy of back-to-back 2,000-yard seasons.
To reach such a feat, Carthage has relied upon Ingram to the tune of 555 carries for a total of 4,569 yards and 69 touchdowns in 2016 and 2017. Considering the play-making ability Ingram provides each time he touches the ball, though, such a workload shouldn’t come as a surprise.
What first jumps out on film is how impressively Ingram explodes through the hole, but that’s just the beginning of what makes him such a premier ball-carrier.
To create space, Ingram utilizes elite lateral quickness, excellent vision and a quick first step and once in space, he has plenty of shiftiness to make defenders miss and the ability to quickly climb back to full speed. Furthermore, Ingram does so in such a smooth, effortless fashion that his top-end speed may be a bit overlooked, as he’s more than capable of running away from a defense than often given credit for.
He’s much more than simply a ball-carrier, too.
One of the top pass-catching running backs in the nation, Ingram is a legitimate weapon through the air and when he’s not being accounted for as an option out of the backfield, he’s stout in providing pass protection.
247Sports provided another analysis of what Ingram brings to the table:
“Keaontay Ingram is a well-rounded, long-framed back who can stay on the field all three downs. He's a unique combination of high frame potential with good close-quarters evasiveness. Ingram is a high-volume, high-production back with great cutback instincts and big-play ability. He's also an outstanding pass-catcher out of the backfield who can line up as a true receiver if needed. Ingram will be one of the top 2018 running back prospects in Texas.”
Considering his do-it-all skillset and the Longhorns lack of a true feature back, Ingram should have no problem finding reps as a true freshman. Although Carter and Young have flashed promise, the two toted the ball just 122 total times in 2017 and because it took Texas quite a while to realize they were the ‘Horns top two options, neither was able to cement himself as the starter.
With Ingram soon joining the mix, that task just got a bit taller, but that’s good news for Texas, as Drayton should have a trio of high-level running backs to distribute carriers to throughout 2018.
A consensus four-star prospect, Ingram is ranked as the No. 163 player nationally, the No. 6 running back, and the No. 15 player in Texas, according to the 247Sports Composite rankings.