Spring Enrollees Happy to be in the Mix

Lost in the shuffle of the 25 National Letters of Intent signed Wednesday, were the six new Florida State football players that have been enrolled in classes since the beginning of January. Luckily, RenegadeReport.com was able to catch up with a few of those guys.

If Christian Ponder has it his way, the Seminoles may return to the days of developing a starting quarterback over an extended period of time.

The Colleyville Heritage High School graduate has had plans to sit out his first year of collegiate football for some time. When he will be eligible to play in 2007, quarterbacks Drew Weatherford and Xavier Lee will have two years of remaining eligibility.

Do the simple math and that means that Ponder could have the opportunity to become a starting signal caller in his redshirt junior season ? much like the way coach Bobby Bowden used to use his quarterbacks in the 1990's.

"It's something that I had planned on doing," Ponder told RenegadeReport.com. "I don't want to be thrown in to the fire right away. I've got a lot to learn and I want to take my time and get adjusted to the playbook and just be ready for the future."

And while the 6-foot-2 athlete, who was rated the No. 20 overall quarterback by Scout.com this recruiting season, continues to prepare for the day that his time will come in the garnet and gold, he is just enjoying being a part of it all thus far.

"It's pretty exciting to be here," he said. "All the hype about Florida State; it's true. I dreamed of coming here since I was little because my dad came here. My grandparents live up in Cairo, Ga., which is 30-miles away, so I have been coming here for a while. But it's real good to finally be an actual student and part of the program."

And while Ponder is prepared for the guaranteed celebrity that goes hand-in-hand with being a quarterback for FSU, his legend has yet to reach campus yet.

Instead, it has been a fellow recent enrollee that has been stealing a bit of his thunder.

"I get recognized a little bit," he said. "But I walk with Myron (Rolle) to class and everybody comes up to him to meet him but it's cool (laughing)."


Yes, that's right. Freshman Matt Dunham has been hitting the weight room hard since originally being signed to the 2005 class. Now, at 255 pounds, the Georgia native is finally a member of the Seminoles football team after waiting to enroll until January of this year. He now has a position too.

Coming out of high school, the 6-foot-2 bruising tailback had broken the Georgia state rushing record set by Herschel Walker, but, because of his large stature, many considered a switch to the defensive side of the ball in college to be likely.

Well, that's not the case.

"I am going to be playing fullback," Dunham told RenegadeReport.com. "Joe Surratt is the only one we have returning so in the spring I am going to start out at No. 2 on the depth chart."

The decision to start out at a position that offers him the earliest chance to contribute was a choice that Dunham took very seriously. But with his tremendous athletic ability, some may worry that he is not playing in the right place.

Dunham disagrees.

"It's not that I love one side of the ball better than the other, I love them both equally," he said. "I just love the sport of football so whatever side or position that coaches put me on I am going to do my best and become the best there. I love running the ball and I love blocking so fullback is the best position for me."

And, in reality, he may be right as Seminole coaches have reiterated on several occasions that a newfound emphasis on the running game will be put into affect this spring.

The soft-spoken yet confident Dunham just wants to be a part of that.

"When my opportunity comes, I am going to do some things," Dunham said. "I am going to make the best of my opportunity when they give it to me. I promise you, I will do what I have to do with the ball when I get it."


Taking a much different path to Florida State than the previously mentioned players, defensive lineman Paul Griffin is finally where he always wanted to be.

After a stellar two-year stint at Butler County Community College, the 6-foot-1 defender is prepared to get to work at his new home in Tallahassee.

"This is a great school and Florida State is a place that I always wanted to be at," Griffin told RenegadeReport.com. "I am just ready to make an impact here starting right away. Now that I am here, it's all on me to make the best of my opportunity and show everyone what I can do."

With all of the varying rotations that defensive coordinator Mickey Andrews and defensive line coach Odell Haggins like to use ? Griffin may find himself with the opportunity to be showcasing what he can do on Saturdays in the near future.

Helping matters is the fact that the defensive coaches are pleased with his versatility.

"Coaches want me to play both positions at defensive tackle," Griffin said. "They think I can compete at either of them."


-Griffin will wear No. 54 for the Seminoles and Ponder will wear No. 14 and then switch to No. 7 after Buster Davis graduates.

-Coaches were extra pleased about the surprise commitment of standout wide receiver Preston Parker because it is more than likely that freshman Rod Owens will have to take a medical redshirt this coming season because of knee rehabilitation.

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