Ponder Competes on First Team

In the 2005 season, sophomore free safety Lovon Ponder finished tied for the team lead in interceptions with three in largely a backup role.

Lovon Ponder finished the season with 20 tackles, five pass break ups and one quarterback hurry to go with his interceptions.

He played in all 12 games and was a regular contributor on special teams. Ponder received most of his snaps in nickel and dime situations, when UM moved Brandon Meriweather up to the nickel back position.

In the spring of 2005, Ponder turned in a very good spring practice that propelled him to backup status on the depth chart. During Saturday's mid-spring scrimmage, Ponder continued his impressive play with an interception when he jumped a crossing route by Greg Olsen.

"I feel like I had a good scrimmage, but there are some things that I still need to work on, but come fall I should be pretty good," Ponder said. "I need to work on going full speed and reading the offense."

With starting free safety Brandon Meriweather sidelined for the rest of the spring, Ponder is working with the first team defense.

"I get more reps and get more experience under my belt working with the first unit," Ponder said.

Being part of the deepest safety corps in the nation, Ponder is glad he gets a chance to work with the first unit. He said that when UM practices in shorts, sophomore safety Anthony Reddick gets the reps with the first team at strong safety, but when the ‘Canes are in pads, Kenny Phillips is the first team strong safety.

Ponder, who won a state basketball title at Pace High School as a junior and a football title as a senior (Pace's first title), is one of the most athletic players on UM's squad. Ponder finished his senior year at Pace on third team all-state in basketball and first team all-state in football.

Ponder became the first player in Miami-Dade history to hold a basketball title and football title at one school in the same year.

Secondary coach, Tim Walton is the only position coach returning to the same unit at UM in 2006. Ponder says that Coach Walton wants him to work on his "coordination and communication skills."

Ponder says that his greatest strength is breaking on the ball and that he wants to "improve my vision and on reading my man in coverage."

Because UM is so deep at the safety position, Lovon Ponder's talent has long been overlooked by the Hurricanes fans. Ponder is an intelligent player—he had a 4.0 GPA in high school—that will continue to progress and push for serious playing time.

David Lake is a Staff Writer and can be contacted by emailing him at lake@canestime.com

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