What seemed like a meaningless all-star game became one we won't soon forget. Just how important was Christian Ponder emerging as the star of the Senior Bowl and winning the game's MVP honors? Important on at least three levels, actually.
1. For Ponder. Number seven reported to Senior Bowl practice in a cloud of question marks. Is his wounded elbow close to being able to make all the throws? Is his brain still scrambled from bouncing off the Georgia Dome surface? Has he been able to rebound into reasonable shape while healing over the past month? Ponder's two touchdown performance squashed all doubts and proved the naysayers wrong. Add other intangibles like poise and maturity, and CP7's NFL stock went from "sell" to "buy".
2. For fans. It's been two months since we've seen Ponder at his peak, or close to it. As well as E.J. played in the ACC title game and Chick-fil-A Bowl, many of us felt cheated out of seeing a big and fitting finish to CP7's FSU career -- just as we felt he was cheated out of a heroic finale. Adding insult to injury was seeing the brainy QB looking dazed and confused after leaving the bowl game. But there he was on Saturday in Mobile, looking sharp and confident, moving in the pocket and hitting receivers like his best days as a Nole. It was a gift for FSU faithful to see him one more time in a gold helmet, playing his heart out. And tell the truth. Have you ever rooted so hard and felt so proud of a Nole QB -- on and off the field -- as you did for Ponder over the last three years?
3. For the program. How great was it to see Ponder and FSU dominate the post-game highlights and headlines. How great that the last chapter of the 2010 college football season featured a Seminole in the spotlight. And how great that it all happened right before national signing day. The impact for Florida State's program was the cherry on top of a season that saw the Noles become relevant again, while generating more buzz for the future under Fisher.