Clint Ingram is a hard-workin', no baloney country kid who caught the Jaguars' eye at the Senior Bowl and is now in the process of competing for a starting job on one of football's best defenses.
"I was mowing yards by the time I was six, seven years old," Ingram said of his upbringing in Longview, Texas. "I used to work on a farm with my grandparents."
Ingram is country all the way, they say. He smiles at the mention, then nods his head and tells of his collection of pit bulls.
"I breed them, keep them, sell them. I kept every dog I found," he said of his days as a youth. "I had 20, 30 dogs running around the yard."
These days, Ingram is one of several young dogs running with the Jaguars linebackers. It's a group of young players that includes 2004 third-round pick Jorge Cordova, '05 sixth-round pick Pat Thomas and '06 undrafted free agent Brian Iwuh. They're all getting good looks this spring in a rotation that has all of the Jaguars linebackers learning all three of the positions.
"We create flexibility. We teach flexibility, so you can play Will (weakside) or Sam (strongside) in our defense and it not be a monumental position change," coach Jack Del Rio said.
"I think it's going to be a fun position to watch this summer. We like our group. They're full of energy," Del Rio added.
The Jaguars traded higher into the third round to draft Ingram, who personnel boss James Harris said was the last linebacker on the board the Jaguars felt had the ability to become a starter this season.
"He looks like he's going to be an explosive player. He's very eager. It's just a matter of how quickly he learns the position," Del Rio said of Ingram.
At Oklahoma last season, Ingram was a big-time play-maker. He intercepted five passes and two of those interceptions were game-winners. Ingram, 6-2, 245, is rare inasmuch as he's one of the few players to come out of college football with the reputation for being an accomplished pass-defender.
"Real good movement skills, suddenness, burst. You could see the explosiveness. He was probably as good a hitter as I saw on film," linebackers coach Mark Duffner said of Ingram.
Despite his production at Oklahoma last season, Ingram was somewhat of an unknown quantity heading into the postseason. Then, he jumped out at people. He turned in a strong performance at the Senior Bowl, at the scouting combine and at his pro day.
"I would've been a later pick," Ingram said of his draft stock, had it been based solely on last season. "I got a late start at Oklahoma. I didn't play until halfway through my junior year."
"I see a guy who has great measurables. He's everything we saw on tape," Defensive Coordinator Mike Smith said.
He's everything you think he is when you talk to him. Ingram is all country.
"I'll stay grounded," he said. "I have a good foundation; good morals."