After Scarlet Knights coach Greg Schiano and co-defensive coordinator Ed Pinkham stopped by the Trinity Catholic of Ocala (Fla.) on Wednesday, the 5-foot-11, 165-pound cornerback views the Scarlet Knights as a realistic option.
So much so the three-star Ponder said he scheduled an official visit to Rutgers for the weekend of Jan. 22.
"Lately, (Rutgers') recruitment has been picking up,'' said Ponder, whose best 40-time this year 4.49 seconds. "I called coach one day and talked to him, and asked if they were still interested in me. He said, ‘Yeah,' and since then they've been picking up their recruiting of me. "They had their bowl game and it slowed it down, but after that it picked up on the recruiting side.''
Ponder holds offers from Rutgers, Cincinnati, Middle Tennessee State and Troy, as well as others. He is scheduled to visit Cincinnati this weekend, but that may not happen, and Notre Dame is now involved in the process.
"I found out in the last day or so there is a chance they could pick up a lineman and not have room for me,'' Ponder said. "There's a lot of things going on. I want to make sure it is a place I can go to before I waste a visit and (then) might not be able to go there.''
Ponder is also talking to Notre Dame about a visit the weekend of Jan. 29. Before Brian Kelly became the coach of the Irish, he recruited Ponder for the Bearcats.
And new Cincinnati coach Butch Jones was after Ponder hard after he replaced Kelly.
"Coach Kelly was going to recruit me (at Cincinnati) because I was one of the top people on their recruiting list,'' Ponder said. "I was close to a decision, but I was like, ‘Well, I want to check out the place and let you know if I want to come here or not.'
"Then the new coach came in and gave me the ok to commit whenever I wanted to commit, but coach Kelly jumped into the picture and they started recruiting me to Notre Dame. It's been kind of tough with those two.''
Ponder believes his recruitment suffered during the season because of a summer illness that kept him out of training camp two-a-days. It morphed into a strained hamstring that limited him to receiver the first two games of the season.
Ponder finally settled in as a cornerback, where he had approximately 60 tackles, two interceptions and two forced fumbles for Trinity Catholic, which lost in the second round of the Class 2B playoffs to The Bolles School of Jacksonville.
"There's some people that say I need to put on some weight, but for my size you wouldn't know I weigh less than what I look,'' Ponder said. "Everybody thinks I got good speed, and pretty good upper body strength, but they look at the weight and say I need to gain weight.''