Courtesy: Ross Obley
Pender's Perfect Start
Mario Pender’s first career carry could not have gone any better with the Seminole running back scoring a touchdown from 11 yards out against Oklahoma State.
“In the heat of the moment you can’t really describe how the feeling was,” Pender said.
The touchdown was the culmination of a tumultuous two years for the redshirt sophomore who could not step on the field because of injury and academic issues. But that all changed Saturday night and no one understood that more than Pender.
“It was a blessing,” Pender said. “It’s not a feeling you can really describe but after being gone for two years, it definitely was a blessing.”
“I was extremely pleased with the way Mario played,” head coach Jimbo Fisher said. “The look in his eyes on the sidelines, you didn’t see a guy who was in his first game. He was very composed and poised and all of the runs and touches that he had were very productive. The guys going to have a great career.”
And that career can now take off because not only is Pender healthy, he has taken care of his academic issues turning himself into one of the top students on the team, with a GPA good enough to make him an Academic Warrior.
“I am so proud of him,” Fisher said. “What he has overcome, what he has went through, from the things he had going on here that he had to overcome, even in his personal life he had issues that he couldn’t control. He really overcame a lot and has really grown as a human being and as I said before he’s a tremendously intelligent young man, great heart, good person and I can’t wait for him to have success, I really can’t.”
Having earned the opportunity to get on the playing field, Pender can now put into practice the lessons he’s learned from the Seminole running backs before him, most notably, Florida State’s most recent 1,000 yard rusher.
“I can say that Devonta Freeman I actually learned the most from,” Pender said. “The passion that he really had and the way that he worked and dedicated himself to the game. I really picked a lot of that up and I really respect him for that.”
Thanks to his hard work and dedication on and off the field, Pender can now flip the script and become a player to be looked up to and after an opening game to remember, he’s certainly off to a good start.