Alec Ingold entered the NFL as an undrafted free agent and made it further than many players in his situation do, but that's because he never got comfortable.
The former Wisconsin Badger joined the Raiders with aspirations of being Head Coach Jon Gruden's favorite toy in a smash-mouth system, but he had plenty of obstacles standing in his way, as well as an unfamiliar setting.
This offseason, Ingold appeared on Barstool Sports' podcast Bussin' With The Boys, hosted by Tennessee Titans tackle Taylor Lewan and impending free agent linebacker Will Compton, who suited up with Ingold and the Raiders in 2019. During his time on the podcast, Ingold explained why he was never comfortable in his first NFL season.
"No," Ingold said when Compton asked if he felt confident at any point as the year progressed. "On the inside, I feel like that's just my personality though, like, I'm not a comfortable guy. I'm comfortable in Green Bay, Wisconsin, in the snow. I'm not comfortable in Oakland, California, playing for the Raiders. I was never comfortable there — it wasn't the environment or anything like that — that's just how I am. I'm going through all these phases of the first time these coaches are seeing me, I'm on edge the whole time — even this offseason."
The pressure weighing on a rookie's shoulders is immense, especially when they're an undrafted free agent trying to make an impression on a coaching staff that already favors another player on the roster; however, Ingold recalls the moment during training camp he felt the scales tip in his favor.
"I think there was one play, it was blitz pickup, and Karl Joseph came [on a blitz]," Ingold recalled. "We had just had a bad blitz pickup as a running back group the day before, and so the defense was pumped, 'We got y'all.' Alright, next day, we show up and they throw me in at running back on blitz pickup. I did that in college and stuff, but I haven't done any running back whatsoever [in the NFL], and Karl is like All-Pro blitzer. He came and just tried to run right through me. He tried to run me over, the rookie nobody knows. I got inside hands, whatever, and I ran him back into the group of guys that were watching because I was being an [expletive]. Like, I had to. That was a point you pull up on tape the next day and it's like, okay."
Clearly, Ingold did more than enough to impress Gruden and his coaches because he played some valuable minutes this season, and it earned him praise throughout the year. Ingold elaborated on what it feels like earning recognition from Gruden, one of the biggest fullback-loving coaches in the NFL.
"It gets you going, like, you'll do anything for that man," he shared. "He'll just toss you a little bone and you're good to go, it's crazy."
Ingold continued on about his rookie year and myriad topics during his time on the podcast, but listening to him recall some of the biggest moments from his first NFL season felt like the biggest takeaway.
His career is just getting started and he's already been robbed of a Pro Bowl nod; however, I'm sure he'll get one in the future, as well as plenty more interview requests.