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MARK INGRAM STARRED ON THE TIDE'S 2009 TITLE TEAM AND WAS drafted by New Orleans last April. He scored five TDs as a Saints rookie, including three in the Superdome, where he also was on hand to see his alma mater win the championship.
SI: How much of Alabama's season did you follow?
MI: I watched every game that was on national TV. I know almost everything that happened. I miss it, especially the big games, seeing the crowds. There's no place I'd rather be than with the Saints, but definitely I miss Alabama.
SI: What similarities do you see between the 2009 title team and this year's?
MI: Great defense. This year's has a lot of guys who were on that ['09] defense—Dont'a Hightower, [Courtney] Upshaw, Mark Barron—who made a huge impact. Also, there's a relentlessness. That's what Nick Saban preaches: Never be satisfied. Always compete. Those qualities made this year's team a typical Coach Saban team: playing great defense, running the ball hard, not making mistakes on offense, making big plays. Beating teams in every phase of the game, running them down for 60 minutes.
SI: Where were you when the tornado struck in April?
MI: Me and Marcell [Dareus] and Julio [Jones] had just gotten to New York for the NFL draft. We knew the tornado was coming, but when I turned on my laptop in the hotel and saw what had happened, I couldn't believe it. All the guys were anxious to go back and help in any way we could. To see this part of our lives for the past three years be destroyed like that really hit our hearts.
SI: What got you about how Alabama's athletes responded?
MI: Everyone who has played at Alabama recently and those that are there now went to try and help. Julio and Marcell helped clean up and hand out clothes and food. I worked for FEMA picking up some things around the city and visiting families that lost everything in the tornado.
SI: What do you think winning another BCS title means to the community, especially this season?