Mike Ingrassia knows he has at least one more football game to play.

Only the recent Desert Vista graduate doesn’t plan on letting it end Saturday night when the Arizona vs. California All-Star football game at Surprise Stadium comes to conclusion.

Ingrassia begins his venture as a walk-on in the Arizona State program July 5 while being on scholarship with the Sun Devils’ track program.

NCAA rules state, so that football programs can’t stash scholarship-worthy players in other athletic programs, that he will have to switch to a football scholarship before sophomore season if he is still participating in both sports.

It will be awhile before that decision has to be made and Ingrassia, who graduated with a 3.7 unweighted GPA and will be in ASU’s Barrett Honors College, hopes to make it pretty clear that he is worth a flier.

“I need to make an impact among the (in-coming) class and show that I belong,” Ingrassia said. “I look forward to getting my chance to compete. It is like when I was a freshman at Desert Vista when I had a drive to make something out of my four years. I am craving that feeling I had my senior year when I had an impact.”

It starts with summer school, some sessions with the ASU strength and conditioning coach and participating in the Sun Devils’ summer program.

“I can’t wait to get back with a team,” he said. “I’ve been kind of working out independently on my own so I can’t wait to get back into the team.”

Desert Vista coach Dan Hinds believes his former team captain has what it takes to break away from the walk-on stigma.

“Mike has what it takes athletically and he has all of the skills needed to come out on top,” Hinds said. “There have been a lot of great stories about walk-ons making it. You have be patient and trust your ability. The coaches are going to be reluctant but if you keep showing up and proving yourself it can happen.

“Mike has the type of personality and desire to be one of those to make it.”

The All-Star game, to be played Saturday, June 25 at 7 p.m. at Surprise Stadium, is a chance for Ingrassia to have some fun after a handful of months of frustration.

It started at the end of the football season when he never really got the football scholarship he wanted. He could have played at Princeton but out-of-state tuition at an Ivy League school can be a bit pricey.

After realizing that he probably wasn’t going to get an offer he wanted, Ingrassia focused on track in an attempt to get a scholarship in his secondary sport.

He won the 300 hurdles as a sophomore, missed most of his junior year because of a hamstring injury and didn’t perform the way he wanted as a senior as his times never met his early season efforts.

“It all worked out in the end and I ended up in a good place,” he said. “I can’t wait to work with those guys over at ASU (track). (Assistant coach) Ronnie Williams has been great and I look forward to running again with (DV graduate) Allante Battle and some of those other guys.

“Things don’t always turn out the way you want them to, but you have to make the most of it.”

Ingrassia, who was an All-Fiesta Region first-team pick after combing for 1,628 yards rushing and receiving, is taking a similar approach to the All-Star game against California, the first year for the event.

He is getting a chance to hang out with and play with former opponents like Brophy’s Josh Dennard (his roommate for the weekend in Surprise) and Hamilton’s Shaq Jenkins.

“It’s a good opportunity to meet the guys you have gone head-to-head against for four years,” said Ingrassia, who is the starting wide receiver and backup cornerback. “You’ve respected them, you know they are talented and play really hard but at the end of game you don’t really know them.

“It’s a good way to end the high school career on a good note.”

The team didn’t come together until Wednesday and practiced three times a day to get the playbook down.

The chance to play against a California squad makes it even more intriguing and cranks up the intensity.

“California is one of those states that always gets mentioned as being the most talented,” he said. “I’ve always thought Arizona could match them as far as top individuals and this will give us a chance to show we belong.”

Contact writer: (480) 898-7915 or jskoda@ahwatukee.com

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