category: Athletics

Navy assistant head coach Ingram to lead Carson-Newman football

VIDEO: Ashley Ingram Introductory press conference

JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – Carson-Newman Vice President for Athletics Matt Pope announced the hiring of long-time Navy assistant head coach Ashley Ingram to be the Carson-Newman football program’s 20th head coach during a press conference Wednesday afternoon at the Ken Sparks Athletic Complex.

“We had more than 100 people express interest in this position,” Pope said. “After much prayer and deliberation, Ashley Ingram has made it beyond readily apparent that he is the right man to lead the Carson-Newman Football program. He has a strong knowledge of option football, the history of the C-N football program and a legacy of developing strong Christian men.  For all these reasons and more, we are elated to welcome Coach Ingram as the 20th head football coach here at Carson-Newman.”

The North Alabama graduate becomes the first non-alum to lead the football program since Johnny Wike (1973-77).  Ingram joins Wike, Richie Gaskell (1966-69) and Bob Davis (1964-65) as the only football coaches since the 1920s who have been the program’s head coach without also graduating from C-N. 

“When you look for a new head coach you desire someone who aligns with heart, head and history of the program,” Carson-Newman University President Dr. Charles A. Fowler said. “Coach Ingram does that. He’s experienced and successful in running the option. He is a man of deep and expressed faith in Jesus. He has the skill and discipline to build a winning program. While he will bring fresh leadership to our storied program that builds on our legacy of excellence, he is going to lead this program into an exciting future marked by wins on the field, Gospel impact on the lives of young men, and a faithfulness to mission of Carson-Newman University.”

Ingram has spent the last 16 years at the Naval Academy in a variety of roles ranging from offensive line coach to offensive coordinator to assistant head coach.  Navy compiled an 113-90 (.556) record during Ingram’s tenure, beating Army 10 times, earning 10 bowl bids, winning six bowl games, winning six Commander-In-Chief’s Trophies and beating Notre Dame three times.

“Why leave the Naval Academy for Carson-Newman? I was looking for a place that is committed to winning football at a high level,” Ingram said. “I know that Carson-Newman is. More importantly, I was looking for a place that was looking to affect the hearts and lives of young men. Here’s what I know about Carson-Newman. Kids who come through this program, can have their lives impacted for eternity.” 

Along the way, Ingram has helped tutor nine all-conference offensive linemen, 12 all-league offensive players, two American Conference Players of the Year, 11 Academic All-Americans and two National Football Foundation Scholar Athlete of the Year Finalists.  Ingram is also regarded as Navy’s top recruiter.

He signed future NFL draft picks and AAC Offensive Players of the Year Keenan Reynolds (2016, sixth round, Baltimore Ravens) and Malcolm Perry (2020, seventh round, Miami Dolphins) to National Letters of Intent at Navy.  Reynolds starred at Goodpasture Christian in Madison, Tenn., while Perry starred at Kenwood High School in Clarksville, Tenn. 

Reynolds broke the NCAA Division I record for most career total touchdowns with 88 and most rushing yards by a quarterback with 4,559. Perry’s 4,359 career rushing yards are second only to Reynolds’ mark.

Ingram recruited 11 of Navy’s team captains since 2011 and recruited three of the four team captains who would go on to help Navy win a school-record 11 games in 2019. 

Ingram is a proponent of option offenses. In 16 years, Navy has averaged 286.32 yards per game rushing the football. The Mids finished in the top five nationally in rushing yardage in FBS eight times in the last 11 years.  Seven times in Ingram’s 16 years with the Mids, Navy rushed for more than 300 yards per game. 

In 2019, Navy had one of the greatest seasons in school history, winning a school-record tying 11 games against just two losses, winning the Commander-In-Chief’s Trophy, sharing the American Athletic Conference West Division title with Memphis and winning the prestigious Liberty Bowl. The Mids’ eight-game improvement from 2018 was the second-biggest turnaround in FBS history.

The Midshipmen finished the 2019 campaign ranked 20th in both the Associated Press and USA Today Coaches Polls. It marked just the second time in the last 56 years that Navy finished in the AP Top 20 (18th in 2015). 

A big part of that success was a Navy offense that set school records for total rushing yards (4,687), rushing yards per attempt (6.1), rushing yards per game (360.5), total offense yards per game (455.8) and tied the record for total offensive yards per attempt (6.8).

The Mids led the nation in rushing thanks to an offensive line that will go down as one of the best in school history.

The Mids were also prolific in the passing game, finishing second in the country in average yards per catch (22.51) and seventh in passing efficiency (176.92).

Senior guard David Forney was named First-Team All-American Athletic Conference, while junior offensive tackle Billy Honaker was named Honorable Mention. Forney and senior center Ford Higgins were named First-Team All-East.

In 2015, Navy won a school-record 11 wins against just two losses, qualified for a bowl game for the 12th time in the last 13 years, won a bowl game for the 10th time in school history (beat Pittsburgh 44-28 in the Military Bowl), won a bowl game for a third straight year for the first time in school history, defeated Army for a series-record 14th consecutive year, won the Commander-In-Chief’s Trophy for the third time in the last four years, won the Lambert Trophy as the best team in the East for the first time since 1963, finished 18th in the country in both the Associated Press and Coaches polls and shared the West Division title of the American Athletic Conference with Houston in Navy’s first year of being in a conference after being an Independent for 134 years.

With Ingram on staff, Navy brought home bowl victories in 2019 (Liberty Bowl), 2017 (Military Bowl), 2015 (Military Bowl), 2014 (Poinsettia Bowl), 2013 (Bell Helicoper Armed Forces Bowl), 2012 (Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl) and 2009 (Texas Bowl). 

Ingram came to Navy from Bucknell, where he served as the offensive coordinator and offensive line coach for two seasons.

In Ingram’s first year as offensive coordinator at Bucknell in 2006, the Bison went from one win the previous year to six and ranked fifth in the nation in rushing offense, averaging 235.2 yards per game, and reduced their turnover total from 33 the previous season to 14.

Prior to Bucknell, Ingram was at Rhode Island where the Rams led the Atlantic 10 in rushing five of his six seasons and finished second in the nation in rushing yards in 2003. The Rams’ eight-win campaign in 2001 was the third-most successful season in school history. 

A native of Iron City, Ga., and a 1996 graduate of the University of North Alabama, Ingram was a four-year letterman on the offensive line and helped his team win Division II national titles in 1993, 1994 and 1995. North Alabama had a 3-0 record against Carson-Newman in the playoffs in that stretch.

UNA amassed a 41–1 record, which also encompassed three straight Gulf South Conference Championships and three consecutive NCAA Division II National Championships—the first three-peat in NCAA history. UNA also became the first program to achieve 40 wins in three seasons.

He entered the coaching ranks as a graduate assistant, first at North Alabama in 1997, then at Temple University in the spring. After spending a year at North Cobb High School in Kennesaw, Ga., in 1998, he became the offensive line coach at the University of West Alabama in 1999, then at Rhode Island in 2000.

Ingram and his wife, Jenifer, are the parents of a daughter, Laura, and two boys, James and William.

Hailing from a football family, Ingram’s father Alan coached high school football in South Georgia for 43 years. He retired after 11 seasons at the helm of Seminole County’s program. The elder Ingram won 83 games and three Region 1-A titles. The Indians advanced to three straight state quarterfinals from 2011-2013. Ashley’s brother Robert starred at NAIA Cumberland University, where he was a two-time Kodak All-American linebacker. Robert coaches at North Cobb High School.

What they’re saying about Ashley Ingram

“Ashley Ingram is the best all-around football coach that I have ever been around in my 34 years of coaching. He is the complete package. He is the greatest recruiter that the Naval Academy has ever had. He was responsible for bringing more young men to the Naval Academy than any other coach that ever has coached at USNA. His players are the who’s – who of Navy greats – Keenan Reynolds, Malcolm Perry, Jabari Tuani, Ford Higgins – to list just a few. He is a brilliant football mind. Most of the offensive school records were set during his time at USNA. He is an elite leader. Most importantly, his players love and revere him! He is a man of character and faith. He is a people person. He loves his beautiful wife Jen and their beautiful children. He had many opportunities to become a head coach in my 15 years at Navy, but we were fortunate to keep him at Navy because of his love for his players and Annapolis. This is a great day the Ingram’s and Carson-Newman.”

~ Ken Niumatalolo, Director of Leadership UCLA, former head coach Naval Academy 2007-22

“I think Carson-Newman has got them a great man.  Ashley is an outstanding person and an outstanding coach.  He will do a great job in leading all aspects of the program.” 

~ Bobby Wallace, head coach, North Alabama, Temple and West Alabama

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