This was the senior performance Florida State quarterback Christian Ponder was capable of delivering.
When healthy, Ponder is one of the best quarterbacks in the country -- hence the school's Heisman campaign for him this past summer -- and he was finally able to prove it on Saturday as the MVP of the Under Armour Senior Bowl. Heading into this game, Washington quarterback Jake Locker was receiving most of the attention and the hype, but it was Ponder who had the strongest showing of the six quarterbacks at the game.
After a season and a half marred by injuries, Ponder earned the start and led the South team to a 24-10 win in front of a sold-out crowd (40,646) in Mobile’s Ladd-Peebles Stadium. Ponder threw for 132 yards and two touchdowns, a performance that highlighted a strong day by former ACC players, as his first touchdown pass went to former Miami receiver Leonard Hankerson. Hankerson was named the Under Armour offensive player of the game after he finished with five catches for 100 yards and a touchdown.
The Scouts Inc. crew gave the ACC players some favorable reviews, writing that Ponder is "a great athlete with adequate size and arm strength," and calling FSU guard Rodney Hudson "one of the most underrated players in this draft." They were also impressed with former Clemson defensive tackle Jarvis Jenkins, and called Hankerson "the best wide receiver on the field." Former Miami linebacker Colin McCarthy also played well:
"Miami LB Colin McCarthy made a nice stop on a quick screen to Vincent Brown. McCarthy is limited athletically and doesn't have elite range, but he has outstanding instincts and a nose for the ball. He will bring great value early on Day 3."
Ponder directed the home team on a 10-play, 73-yard drive that ended in a field goal to give the South an early 3-0 lead. His 18-yard touchdown pass to Hankerson in the opening quarter put the South ahead 10-0.
Former Maryland running back Da'Rel Scott made it a one-possession game when he scored from 1 yard out and pulled the North to within a touchdown, at 17-10 with just 19 seconds remaining in the third quarter.
Former UNC cornerback Kendric Burney was named the Most Outstanding Player for the North squad after totaling seven tackles.