Following in the footsteps of his father, a former FSU defensive tackle, Christian Ponder would make his way to Tallahassee to play under legendary coach Bobby Bowden. Just a three-star recruit out of Colleyville, Texas, Ponder was the first of a new wave of FSU quarterbacks.
Ponder appeared in just one game as a freshman, coming in for an injured Drew Weatherford. It was a losing effort against Virginia Tech, but the first-year quarterback flashed the run-and-gun ability he would become known for, going 8-of-18 for 105 yards and a touchdown while rushing five times for 51 yards.
After taking over the starting role full-time in his sophomore year, he began to showcase his potential, throwing for 2006 yards and 14 touchdowns. He was also third on the team in rushing with 423 yards and four scores on the ground. FSU ended the season with a 9-4 record and plenty of hype building for the next year.
The next year, in the midst of a break out season, Ponder was sidelined after separating his shoulder against Clemson. Up to that point, Ponder had thrown for 2,717 yards and 14 touchdowns and was one of the nation’s leaders in completion percentage with 68.8 percent of his throws hitting the target. It was a less prolific year on the ground, but the dual-threat quarterback still ran for 179 yards and two scores, all with three games still left to play in the regular season.
Ponder bounced back the next year and started his senior season on the Maxwell Award watch list. FSU even launched a Heisman campaign for CP7 following his stellar, albeit shortened, junior year:
Ponder wasn’t able to match the yardage pace he set the previous year, but still lit up defenses for 2,044 yards and 20 touchdowns through the air and added four rushing touchdowns for good measure. He would lead the ’Noles to victories over both Miami and Florida, an ACC Championship berth, and a Peach Bowl victory. By the year’s end the Seminoles had 10 wins and were ranked 17th nationally.
Throughout his career, Ponder was just as productive in the classroom as he was on the field. A two-time ACC All-academic team member, Ponder graduated from FSU with a degree in finance in just two years. He went on to earn his MBA and was working on another postgraduate degree before departing FSU after being drafted 12th overall by the Minnesota Vikings.
Exemplary on and off the field, Ponder brought a new meaning to dual-threat and began a new era of dominant quarterback play for the Seminoles.