It must be a little weird down in Tallahassee, Florida right now. For the first time since 1976 the Florida State Seminoles will be taking the field without Bobby Bowden and that “dadgum” straw hat. The show must go on, and while Bowden is out trying to promote a new book, the Seminoles are preparing for the season with a new head coach and something under center that Bowden often had in his tenure… a great quarterback.
Christian Ponder, or CP7 as his teammates refer to him, is an outstanding quarterback and has a chance to make a serious run at the Heisman Trophy. This is a guy who had given serious thought to possibly declaring for the NFL draft before injuring his shoulder late in the season in a loss to Clemson. Before the injury, however, he was putting up some great numbers. He threw for over 2,700 yards and 14 touchdowns despite missing four games due to the shoulder injury. I had the opportunity to watch him play in person against Georgia Tech last season in Tallahassee. Single-handily, he almost won that game for the Seminoles. He passed for 359 yards and five touchdowns. But, unfortunately for FSU, the ‘Noles came up on the short end of that game, losing a thriller 49-44.
The Florida State athletic department thinks enough of Ponder’s Heisman chances that it has created a “CP7 for Heisman” website. And why not? This guy represents what a true college football player is all about. Not only is he successful on the field, but he’s a borderline genius in the classroom. Actually, you can remove “borderline” from the previous statement. He earned his undergraduate degree in finance in two-and-a-half years and he completed his MBA this past Spring… while maintaining a 3.7 GPA. And just for fun, he’s halfway through earning his Masters in sports management. Chances are he won’t need any of these degrees for awhile. Along with Washington’s Jake Locker, he’s considered one of the top quarterbacks for the 2011 NFL draft.
One thing that is out of his control as far as his Heisman candidacy is concerned is the Florida State defense. That was a serious problem last season and prevented the Seminoles from having a more memorable campaign. Giving up an average of 30 points per game won’t get it done, and that’s why new defensive coordinator Mark Stoops has been teaching a new zone-based scheme. If the defense shows ANY type of improvement, the Seminoles will win more games, a fact that obviously will help Ponder’s candidacy.
Last season there were three candidates that stood above the others. We did a debate on it here at The Sports Debates and, as it turns out, we were all wrong (Editor’s Note: That’s why we’re not in the prediction business here. Just the entertaining debate business. Yea… it’s a business.).
In 2010 the Heisman Trophy race is wide open, and Christian Ponder has the talent to eventually win it.