By Don Kausler Jr. -- The Birmingham News
December 20, 2009, 7:53AM
TUSCALOOSA -- That formerly elusive Heisman Trophy already is in a trophy case on the second floor of Alabama's football building, displayed next to the latest of 22 Southeastern Conference championship trophies, the one the Crimson Tide won on Dec. 5.
At least that's one of the trophies that sophomore running back Mark Ingram won Dec. 12.
There's a duplicate trophy that is his to keep. And where is it?
"My mom has mine," Ingram said Saturday after the top-ranked Tide's first practice in preparation for its Jan. 7 national championship game against secondranked Texas. Which means it's in Flint, Mich., where he spent some time after five hectic days in New York.
"It's in the middle of the kitchen table," said Ingram, the first Alabama player to win the award.
And it might stay there for a while.
"That thing's heavy," Ingram said. "It's not something you just pick up. Unless you're going to move it from a spot to another spot, I wouldn't recommend picking it up just for fun."
The 25-pound bronze figure of a stiff-armed player on a wooden base is the most prestigious individual prize in college football. Ingram won it in the closest vote in the Heisman's 75-year history, beating Stanford senior running back Toby Gerhart by 28 votes.
A week later, he reflected on the experience.
"Crazy, exciting, a great experience that I'll remember for the rest of my life," he said. "The TV shows, the pictures and autographs and meeting a lot of different people."
And dodging autograph-seekers, including a memorabilia seeker who greeted Ingram when he arrived in New York at LaGuardia Airport.
A member of Alabama's media relations staff who was escorting Ingram through the concourse "got marked on with a Sharpie 'cause he was telling people I couldn't sign autographs," Ingram said. "The dude was so mad."
So was Ingram's escort.
"He was pretty hot," the 20-year-old player said. "I had to go back and get him. He probably wouldn't be here today."
What did Ingram enjoy most about the experience?
"The time I had with my family . . . being able to share that moment with them," he said.
He came home to Flint to see billboards and signs in restaurants congratulating him. His hometown is planning a parade in his honor and will give him a key to the city.
"I've enjoyed it," Ingram said. "I've had a great time, but it's about time to get back with my teammates and work on the goal we've had since the beginning of the year. . . . We all have a focus. We all want to get that crystal ball."
That is, the national championship trophy.
"I'm going to work as hard as I can," said Ingram, who was pleased to be back with his teammates. "I'm going to lay my heart on the line for them."
Those teammates couldn't be happier.
"It was great for the program, great for him and it couldn't have gone to a better guy," said quarterback Greg McElroy, who was at home near Dallas. "We were having a watching party at my house. We went crazy."
Senior guard Mike Johnson said he and fellow linemen were texting each other as soon as Ingram was announced as the winner.
Text messages were flying everywhere. Ingram had his cell phone with him on the Nokia Theatre stage.
"I looked at it when I walked off the stage to talk to (ESPN's Chris) Fowler, and I had 237 text messages," he said. "They were coming all night, and they're still coming."