- Carthage running back Keaontay Ingram is 2,821 yards away from the school's all-time record; he rushed for 2,225 last year.
- Ingram, who led his team to a state championship as a junior, is the only 2018 in-state running back with a Texas offer.
- He holds 25 scholarship offers, but hasn't released a list of favorites and says he's just "going with the flow" right now.
One town 60 miles east of Tyler still values the running back position — Carthage, which has built a high school dynasty on running the football in the modern age of spread attacks. The Bulldogs are the defending Class 4A Division I state champions, in large part because of their four-star running back Keaontay Ingram.
“It’s a lot of fun to be the running back at Carthage. We run the ball a lot, which is why I chose the position,” Ingram said, half-jokingly. “I started football when I was four or five. I played other sports like baseball and basketball, but I liked scoring touchdowns.”
Ingram scored plenty of touchdowns as a junior. He accounted for 33 scores, rushing for 2,225 yards on 320 carries. He also caught 46 passes for 475 yards. Entering his senior season, he’s No. 10 on Carthage’s career rushing list but trails all-time leader Tevin Pipkin by 2,603 yards. If he duplicates his numbers from 2016, Ingram would end his career No. 3 on Carthage’s career list.
To break Pipkin’s record, he needs 2,821 yards.
“As a team, we reached our goals and we never lost belief even though we started the season 0-2,” Ingram said. “We knew we could become a great team, and that’s the mindset at Carthage. We’re used to the success. Those are the expectations here.”
Ingram is ranked No. 50 on the American-Statesman’s Fabulous 55. He’s a 247Sports composite four-star prospect, ranked No. 292 overall in the country and the No. 15-ranked running back. He holds 25 offers, including one from every Power 5 program in the state. He’s the only in-state running back that Texas has offered for 2018.
Still, he’s taking the recruiting process in stride. Ingram hasn’t released a list of top schools and is “going with the flow” as of now since more offers could come this spring. Outside of the state, he already holds offers from Oklahoma, Florida State, Michigan and Ohio State.
“Recruiting is fun. A lot of people want to be in this position, so I never try to forget that. It is a blessing, but it does get stressful at times with interviews and all of that,” Ingram said. “It’s one of the most exciting times in my life and I want to enjoy the process. It’s something I can tell my kids about in the future.”
Texas is recruiting Ingram hard. While offensive line coach Derek Warehime oversees the east Texas area, Ingram said, he also chats often with running backs coach Stan Drayton and head coach Tom Herman. This isn’t unique to just the Texas staff, but Ingram does pay attention to how often programs recruiting him reach out.
“The level of interest a coach shows in you helps figure out which schools want you the most and are making you a priority,” he said. “After that, it is about figuring out the right fit with the coaching staff and the scheme.”
Ingram also relies on current players to speak the truth about a program.
“The players know what is happening,” he said. “These colleges are all nice and have great facilities and the trips will be fun. There will be big crowds for the games on Saturdays, but at the end of the day it boils down to football. You can’t let fancy stuff buy you. I want to pay attention to how the coaches and players act at each school.”
From what he’s heard from Texas players, Ingram likes the direction of the Longhorns program under Herman.
“They say you’ll have fun when there is time, but it becomes about business when it is football. It’s a whole different mindset (at Texas) and everyone is on the same page,” Ingram said. “Those guys are competing and they’ll play hard. The Texas staff is going to bring something special to the table. They mean what they say.”