UMass RB Tyshaun Ingram glad to be back on offense

  • UMass coach Mark Whipple conducts the first football practice of the season on July 30. GAZETTE STAFF/KEVIN GUTTING

Monday, August 07, 2017

AMHERST — UMass running backs coach Darrius Smith wanted Tyshaun Ingram in the offensive backfield to begin with.

Smith had seen him in high school and thought he had a chance to be a standout with the ball in his hands for the Minutemen.

But when the class of 2016 arrived on campus, numbers, depth and Ingram’s versatility pushed the Orlando, Florida, native to defense, where he played some safety, some linebacker and special teams last year as a true freshman.

“We thought with all his physicality and his size that he would be a better match on defense,” Smith said.

But running backs Sekai Lindsay and Peyton Pickett both transferred after the season, leaving the Minutemen, who didn’t add a back on signing day, thin at the position.

When UMass coach Mark Whipple discussed moving someone to running back, Smith didn’t hesitate to campaign for who he wanted.

“When it came time to transition somebody over I was saying ‘gimme Tyshaun, gimme Tyshaun,’” Smith said.

Request granted. Ingram moved over midway through spring practice.

“I like it a lot. It’s my natural position I’m coming back to. It’s good to be back on the offensive side,” Ingram said. “On my official visit (Smith) always said he was going to get me on that side of the ball. It’s cool.”

Junior Marquis Young is clearly the No. 1 back and sophomore Bilal Ally begins camp at No. 2. Ingram is competing with sophomore Nick Orekoya for No. 3.

“Marquis is a good mentor,” Ingram said. “He and Bilal both stay with me after practice and help me watch film to get adjusted to the system.”

Smith said he thinks Ingram can become an impact player.

“Tyshaun Ingram has been a good addition to the backfield. I think he’s going to give us the depth that we’ve been looking for,” Smith said. “He’s athletic. He’s going to contribute. How early? I don’t know, but he is going to be someone who is going to contribute for us. He’s going to get a lot of run at special teams. As the season progresses we’re going to find some packages to get him in to the mix at running back.”

While running the ball has felt natural, Ingram said getting his blocking up to speed has been the challenge.

“D-ends like Da’Sean Downey are a lot faster than a typical high school D-end,” he said.

The defense isn’t going easy on him. Junior cornerback Lee Moses said the guys he played defense with are enjoying going at him.

“It’s weird. It’s a lot of fun,” Moses said. “We definitely have to give him a hard time.”

Ingram is enjoying the back and forth.

“I definitely had a bull’s- eye on my back when everyone found out I was back on offense,” said Ingram, who thought his time on defense was valuable. “I learned how to read linebackers tendencies and D-ends tendencies. It helped me a lot at running back. I react a lot faster.”

HUBER VISITS DOCTOR — Whipple said senior linebacker Shane Huber was scheduled to see doctor to get an update on his injured knee. Whipple hoped to have a timetable on Tuesday.

Matt Vautour can be reached at mvautour@gazettenet.com. Get UMass coverage delivered in your Facebook news feed at www.facebook.com/GazetteUMassCoverage