Ryan Ingold took a unique route to the next level.
Ingold, Batavia's senior offensive lineman, hadn't played football since seventh grade until joining the team last fall. As a junior he played on Batavia's varsity golf team, and was a sectional qualifier.
He made the move back to football his senior year, and now is headed to the Big Ten, signing with Illinois on Wednesday.
Bulldogs punter Jake Holcombe (Wisconsin-Whitewater), tight end Drew Iutzwig (Iowa State), defensive back BJ Vines (College of DuPage) and Ingold signed their National Letters of Intent on Wednesday.
"I enjoyed the competitive nature of [golf], but it was kind of more of a hobby for me," Ingold said. "I didn't really have any plans to continue in college. I just enjoyed with playing with all the guys."
Two Batavia football teammates, defensive back Sam Barus and Iutzwig, helped convince Ingold to trade in his golf clubs for shoulder pads.
Iutzwig went down to Florida in January 2019 to watch former teammate and current Northwestern freshman Michael Jansey in the Under Armour All-American game.
"[Ingold] was texting me then," Iutzwig recalled. "We all wanted him to play football, obviously. He's big; he obviously could help."
Iutzwig's sales pitch was pretty direct.
"Just play. You can play football; this is your last chance to play football. If you don't play this year, you'll never play again," Iutzwig said. "You can golf, [but] you can golf the rest of your life."
They pursisted with their message. Iutzwig eventually made a few phone calls to Ingold and senior Nick Crankshaw following football equipment pickup day.
"I was like, guys, last time with the boys, come have a good time with your friends. It's a brotherhood out here," Iutzwig said. "'You'll have fun, whether you play or not. I was telling Ryan: 'Ryan, you have no downside. Coaches are going to look at you...I told him [with] me, I was talking to a lot of colleges, and I played a quarter of varsity football my junior year."
Ingold, 6-foot-6 and 280-pounds, played left tackle for the first five weeks of the season before transitioning to guard. During the fall Ingold sent his tape from the season opener against East St. Louis to some schools "just to see what would happen."
Illinois reached out rather quickly. Ingold went for a gameday visit in September, and received his preferred walk-on offer in October. Ingold took his official visit in late January.
"I think it's definitely going to be a big jump for me [In the Big Ten] considering I only have basically one year of experience playing football," Ingold said. "I would say I've played pretty well for my only year, and I think if that translates to the college level with the Illinois strength program and all the coaches there. I think I have a shot to compete maybe for a spot in the next couple years."
"I think I have a lot of upside, and I'm hoping that they can transform me into a really solid offensive lineman."