2012 NFL DRAFT: DEFENSIVE ENDS

A position-by-position look at prospects in this year’s NFL Draft. This entry: Defensive Ends.

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INDIANAPOLIS –Melvin Ingram is not your typical defensive end.

Dating back to his days as a point guard in high school, Ingram has grown into one of the most athletic prospects in this year's NFL Draft.

Whether it is his standing back flips or the fact that he was on the South Carolina 'hands' team this past season, the versatile Ingram has found his way onto the field in a variety of ways for the Gamecocks.

"I feel like playing so many roles helped me maximize my potential because I feel my coach gave me the opportunity to show my athletic ability in every way," Ingram said.

Ingram arrived at South Carolina as a linebacker back in 2007, and he played that position during his freshman season.  He appeared in all 12 games that first year, but he suffered a broken foot just prior to the Gamecocks spring game following the season.

The injury did seem to faze Ingram.  He sat out all of the 2008 season while rehabilitating.  After briefly getting a look at fullback, he switched to his current position – defensive end.

"It wasn't real difficult because injuries are a part of life, a part of football," Ingram said.  "It was just something I had to deal with, something I had to overcome."

At defensive end, Ingram burst onto the scene during his junior season when he recorded nine sacks, a total achieved with only one starting assignment.  The sack total ranked third in the SEC and tied the second-highest seasonal total in school history.

"Just coming in, being in a situation where somebody was in front of me," Ingram said of not starting his junior year.  "I had to play my role on the team.  I did whatever the team needed me to do.  At that point in time, it wasn't for me to be a starter."

The starting role for Ingram came in his final season in Columbia as he helped the Gamecocks to the most wins in school history, along with a first-ever Top Ten finish.

Ingram became just the third consensus All-American at South Carolina, and he was first-team All-SEC.  The team captain started 12 of 13 games and had 48 tackles, 15 for losses, and 10 sacks.  The sack total tied the school seasonal mark, and he had three touchdowns.  Two of his scores came at Georgia when he had a five-yard fumble return and a 68-yard burst on a fake punt.  The performance made him just the third Gamecock since 2006 with an offensive and defensive touchdown in the same game.

The versatile performer also ran 19 yards on a fake punt against The Citadel, and he had 11 tackles, 3.5 sacks and an interception against Auburn.  For his career, Ingram started 14 of 52 games and had 109 tackles, 71 solo, 30.5 stops for losses and 21.5 sacks.

Along with getting a player that has seen time at both linebacker and defensive end in perhaps the nation's top conference, Ingram mentioned other intangibles that he will bring to the team that drafts him.

"They're going to get a hard worker, a passionate player of football, a leader, vocal and leading by example," Ingram said.

Since his days as a high school 'scoring' point guard, Ingram has added about 40 pounds to his 6-2, 276-pound frame.

The ability to handle the position change after the adversity of suffering a season-ending injury proved to be the difference for the future pro.

"It just showed me how valuable football was," Ingram said of the year off.  "Football has always been my life but being without it for a year just made me appreciate it a lot more, even though I appreciated it a lot already."

LOOKING AT THE 2012 NFL DRAFT'S DEFENSIVE ENDS

* *

THE LAST FIVE

The last five defensive ends drafted by the Colts:

2010:  Jerry Hughes, first round, TCU

2008:  Marcus Howard, fifth round, Georgia

2007:  Keyunta Dawson, seventh round, Texas Tech

2005:  Jonathan Welsh, fifth round, Wisconsin

2003:  Robert Mathis, fifth round, Alabama A&M

THIS YEAR'S DRAFT

An alphabetical list of defensive ends expected to be selected in the 2012 NFL Draft (*-denotes underclassman):

Frank Alexander, Oklahoma

Jake Bequette, Arkansas

Andre Branch, Clemson

Vince Brown, Northwestern

Quinton Coples, North Carolina

Jack Crawford, Penn State

Vinny Curry, Marshall

Melvin Ingram, South Carolina

Cam Johnson, Virginia

Note:  The content in this story and in the series of draft-eligible players that appears on Colts.com in no way reflects the position of the Indianapolis Colts.

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