During his sophomore college season in 2009, Ingram won the first Heisman Trophy ever awarded to an Alabama Crimson Tide player, set the Crimson Tide's single-season rushing record with 1,658 yards, was recognized as a unanimous All-American, and helped lead the Tide to an undefeated 14–0 season and the 2010 BCS National Championship.
He was a four-year starter on his high schools' football teams, running for 2,546 yards and 38 touchdowns in his final two seasons. He was Saginaw Valley MVP, Area Player of the Year, and an All-State selection as a senior. Ingram also played defensively as a cornerback, totaling 84 tackles and eight interceptions his senior year.Rivals.com ranked Ingram as a four-star "athlete"—a designation used for football recruits who have the potential to play multiple positions.
Track and field
In addition to football, Ingram ran track for the Flint (MI) Southwestern Academy track and field team, where he was nine-time All-State track star. His personal bests are 10.69 seconds in the 100 meters and 21.90 seconds in the 200 meters. He also competed in the long jump, recording a personal best of 7.25 meters.
On October 17, 2009, in a game against South Carolina, Ingram ran for a career-high 246 yards. He was named SEC Offensive Player of the Week.
In the 2009 SEC Championship Game versus the undefeated and top-ranked Florida Gators, Ingram rushed for 113 yards and three touchdowns, while also catching two passes for 76 receiving yards to combine for 189 all-purpose yards. In the game, Ingram also surpassed Bobby Humphrey's single-season rushing record for the Crimson Tide, reaching 1,542 rushing yards for the season.
On January 7, 2010 Alabama defeated Texas 37–21 to win the BCS National Championship. Ingram received honors as Offensive MVP after rushing for 116 yards and 2 touchdowns on 22 carries. For the 2009 season, Ingram rushed for 1,658 yards and 17 touchdowns. He also had 334 receiving yards with 3 touchdowns.
Ingram was ruled out for the season opener after undergoing minor knee surgery the week prior to the opening game against San Jose State. Sophomore running back Trent Richardson filled in for Ingram for the first two games, after it was announced that the junior was not likely to play against Penn State on September 11. He eventually made his season debut in a road game against Duke, rushing for 151 yards on nine carries, including two touchdowns in the first quarter, as Alabama routed the Blue Devils 62–13.
After a 3–0 start, Alabama traveled to Fayetteville to face the Arkansas Razorbacks in the conference opener for the Crimson Tide. Ingram and the Alabama offense came back from a 20–7 third quarter deficit to take a 24–20 lead with just over three minutes remaining, when Ingram capped a short, 12-yard drive with a one yard touchdown run. Ingram finished with 157 yards on 21 attempts and two touchdowns. He did not break 100 yards again during the regular season. On October 9, Alabama suffered their first loss since the 2009 Sugar Bowl when the team fell 35–21 to South Carolina in Williams-Brice Stadium. Ingram was held to a season-low 41 yards on 11 carries in the loss.
Ingram finished his junior season with 875 yards on 158 carries with 13 touchdowns, with an additional 282 yards receiving and a touchdown. On January 6, 2011, Ingram announced he would forego his senior season and enter the 2011 NFL Draft. At the time of the announcement, he was projected as a first round pick.
The New Orleans Saints selected Ingram with the 28th pick in the 2011 NFL Draft—the same pick number the Giants used to draft his father, Mark Ingram, Sr., twenty-four years earlier. Ingram was the first running back drafted in 2011; since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger, this was the latest pick used for the first running back chosen in an NFL draft. The Saints acquired the pick from the New England Patriots, trading their second-round selection (#56 overall) and their first-round selection in 2012 to do so. As Alabama head coach Nick Saban is part of Patriots head coach Bill Belichick's coaching tree, the Patriots were widely assumed to be interested in drafting Ingram themselves. On July 28, 2011, Ingram decided on the number #28 in honor of his and his father's draft pick number. The next day Ingram agreed with the Saints on a four year contract, with three years guaranteed and a fifth year option. The contract is worth $7.41 million, with a $3.89 million signing bonus.
On August 12, 2011, Ingram scored his first touchdown as a Saint on a 14-yard run in a preseason game against the San Francisco 49ers.
On September 25, 2011, Ingram scored his first touchdown in regular season play as a Saint on a tough 13-yard run against the Houston Texans.
On October 23, 2011, late in the game on Sunday night in a runaway win against the Indianapolis Colts Ingram injured his heel. It was considered a 'day-to-day' injury at first, but Ingram was unable to practice the entire week and missed the following game versus the winless St. Louis Rams which ended in a 31-21 loss for the Saints.