It's been a long and winding road for Christian Ponder, but the Florida State quarterback was named the 2011 Senior Bowl MVP after a fine day that could not help but boost his 2011 NFL Draft stock.
Ponder led the South team to a 24-10 win with a steady hand in the passing game, completing seven of his 13 throws for 131 yards and two touchdowns. That was an MVP performance in a game marked by frequent substitutions; 17 of the South's 24 points came on three drives led by Ponder that covered 72, 70, and 68 yards.
For Ponder, it's a bit of redemption, or maybe confirmation. He's been seen as a quarterback with NFL talent since starting as a sophomore at Florida State, but injuries had waylaid his collegiate career in the past two seasons. Ponder, who completed his degree in three years, chose to return to Tallahassee for a fourth year after Bobby Bowden's retirement following the 2009 season, only to have shoulder problems plague him all year.
But Ponder's always had the physical tools to play quarterback — he doesn't have an exceptional arm, but his accuracy is above-average — and the smarts to understand a complex offense. It would be no surprise if he made himself a fair amount of money with an strong week in Mobile and in the 2011 Senior Bowl.