One of the state’s most intriguing prospects to watch this year is Jailyn Ingram, the two-sport star from Morgan County High School.
The 6-foot-5, 210-pounder is one of the few kids in Georgia that has the opportunity to play football or basketball at the major-college level.
Georgia Tech has offered Ingram the chance to play football, basketball or both.
“He’s an unbelievable talent,” Morgan County football coach Bill Malone told the AJC.
“He probably has the best hands I’ve seen come through here and we’ve been here 21 years now. We’ve barely scratched the surface as to how good he can be.”
Because of Ingram’s raw, unrefined talent, Malone sees Ingram as a college coach’s dream.
“He’s a blank canvas blessed by God with great height, fantastic hands and sub-4.5 (40-yard dash) speed,” Malone said. “With someone to put a brush on that canvas, he can easily become a top-level receiver. I can’t wait to see what happens.”
Back to basketball: Ingram has always been a standout in that sport, and he helped Morgan County to its first-ever state championship in 2014. He is being recruited by colleges as a small forward.
It also wasn’t until last year – his junior season – that he decided to take up football after being heavily courted by the Morgan County football since his freshman year.
Though raw and unfamiliar with the nuances of his newly chosen sport, he excelled at the receiver position. Using his size and athleticism, Ingram posted 892 yards and 11 touchdowns on 45 receptions.
Several colleges, including Georgia Tech and Mississippi State have at least entertained the possibility of playing both sports. Ingram is still thinking over things.
“That’s a decision I’m still weighing out,” Ingram said. “I’ve been giving (playing two sports) a lot of thought,” Ingram said. “But that would be a lot of time management.”
Following his stellar junior season in football, college scouts began contacting Malone. North Carolina State was the first to offer, and Georgia Tech followed up after Ingram visited the campus last March.
Ingram estimates he currently holds 15 offers, and his top four choices are Georgia Tech, Florida State, Mississippi State and North Carolina State.
Though Georgia Tech uses a run-heavy offense, there are still big opportunities for receivers in their system. Receivers will have to help with blocking, but the constant running opens up the deep game and one-on-one matches. Demaryius Thomas parlayed his stint at Georgia Tech into a Pro Bowl career with the Broncos and is in line for Calvin Johnson-type money.
Ingram said he likes the idea of playing in Tech’s offense.
“I like blocking,” he said. “I have longer arms, so that makes it easier and I can keep up with the corners. I know how to use my feet as well.”
Morgan County assistant Todd Peaster said Ingram needs to improve his route-running and footwork, and with more experience that should come.
Peaster, who spent extra time with Ingram before and after practices to help Ingram learn the game, has noticed a great commitment from Ingram to football than a year ago.
“He’s already got the speed and the hands to where if (the quarterback) gets the ball within his zip code he’s going to come down with it,” Peaster said. “Not too many kids can play just a year and produce like he has. I’ve noticed this spring and into the summer a different level of interest and commitment from him.
“I think he realizes he can do this a good while longer.”
And that’s where Ingram is at heading into his senior year – deciding which sport he wants to continue playing a good while longer. Choosing a sport and a school are decisions Ingram will take his time making.
“I’m going to see how I produce this football season and how I feel about that after the season,” Ingram said. “I’d like to reach a decision by the end of the season.”
Ingram is rated as a 3-star and the state’s No. 84 overall prospect. He has the potential to crack the top 25 by the end of his senior season in football.