|Freshman Mario Pender (right) will redshirt the 2012 season while recovering from groin surgery. (US Presswire)|
Florida State true freshman Mario Pender was just gearing up for his first season in Tallahassee, but a groin injury will sideline the highly-touted prospect until 2013. Following the Seminoles' practice on Tuesday, coach Jimbo Fisher announced that Pender would soon have surgery be forced to redshirt the 2012 season.
"It's the new injury of ball," Fisher told local media. "Some of the NFL teams are sending six, eight, nine guys a year to it…Instead of making it worse, we're going to get it fixed and have it ready to go."
Pender enrolled at Florida State in January and impressed the coaching staff in spring workouts. He was listed fourth on the depth chart behind senior Chris Thompson and sophomores Devonta Freeman and James Wilder, Jr., but as the Orlando Sentinel's Coley Harvey pointed out - he was expected to be given plenty of chances to compete for time on the field.
Florida State's struggles on the ground in 2011 - ranking No. 104 nationally with 112.2 yards per game - can be attributed in part to a hard bite from the injury bug. The offensive line was down to four first-year starters by the time the Champs Sports Bowl rolled around, and Devonta Freeman was thrust into the starting role as a true freshman with Chris Thompson out for the year.
Thompson broke a vertebrae in his back during Florida State's 35-30 loss to Wake Forest on Oct. 8. His road to recovery has been a long one, and the senior said he plans to help Pender as he undergoes a similar process.
"I'm just going to have to keep him up," Thompson said regarding Pender's injury. "That's my job as a senior running back is to keep freshman up; to keep their spirits up. Because I know he's saying he's alright now, and I said the same when I was hurt.
"But when he gets alone and really thinks about it, it's really going to hit him."
Thompson was the Seminoles leading rusher as a sophomore in 2010, taking 133 carries for 846 yards and six touchdowns. That year, he combined with Ty Jones and Jermaine Thomas combined to rush for 1,863 yards and 17 touchdowns. Florida State fans are hoping for a similar three-headed attack from Thompson, Freeman, and Wilder; particularly after the struggles of 2011.
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