Florida State quarterback Christian Ponder has been one of the few bright spots in an ugly season for Florida State. That bright spot was extinguished Saturday night, when Ponder suffered a separated right shoulder in trying to tackle Clemson defensive back DeAndre McDaniel. The injury, a grade three shoulder separation, that will require season-ending surgery, prompting speculation that the play -- which concluded Ponder's fourth interception of the night -- could be his final one for the Seminoles.
With the injury (and potential lost earnings) of Sam Bradford last year, as well as speculation that the league is looking to impose a rookie salary cap soon, scouts are anticipating underclassmen flocking early to the NFL this winter.
Despite this being only his second season as Florida State's starting quarterback, his improvement has been considerable. Numbers rarely tell the whole story, but consider that in 13 starts in 2008 Ponder completed 55.7% of his passes for 2007 yards and a 14-13 TD to INT ratio. In only 9 starts this season, Ponder completed 68.8% of his passes for 2,717 yards and a TD-INT ratio of 14-7.
Ponder, 6-3, 215 pounds, has the size, intelligence, arm strength, accuracy and mobility scouts are looking for in a potential franchise quarterback. Unlike many of the other highly touted quarterbacks across the country, Ponder's production has come via a pro-style offense.
Scouts would like to see Ponder return for his senior campaign, as he remains raw. Highly drafted, but unpolished young quarterbacks have a significantly more difficultt time acclimating to the pros simply because there is very little time for second or third quarterbacks handling the ball in a typical NFL week of practice. To improve, he'll need to play -- and scouts don't feel he (or many of the other highly touted underclassmen QBs of the potential 2010 class) is ready.
Still, with undeniable physical tools, his academics in order (he already has his undergraduate degree) and now time on his hands to consider his future, Ponder is a name to keep in mind for the 2010 QB class.
Take into consideration his words, as told to the St. Petersburg Times before the Clemson game:
“Obviously after the season, I’ll take an evaluation (from the NFL) and see what happens and make a decision after that,’’ he said. “I see myself playing here next year, but we’ll see what they say and what happens. There’s a chance of either way.’’