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April 29, 2011
New York—Florida State’s Christian Ponder became the first Atlantic Coast Conference player taken in the 2011 National Football League Draft Thursday night in New York, being selected 12th overall by the Minnesota Vikings.
In doing so, Ponder becomes the first ACC quarterback chosen in the first round of the NFL Draft since Boston College’s Matt Ryan was the fourth player taken overall in the 2009 NFL Draft by the Atlanta Falcons.
Despite being hampered by injuries in his final two seasons at FSU, Ponder who graduated after his sophomore season and earned an MBA Degree at FSU, bolstered his draft status by being named the MVP of the Senior Bowl as well as with a strong showing at the NFL combine. A native of Coffeyville, Texas, Ponder was honored this past year as winner of the ACC’s Jim Tatum Award which is annually presented to the league’s top football scholar-athlete.
As a senior, Ponder completed 61.5 percent of his passes for 2,044 yards, 20 touchdowns and only 8 interceptions. He finished third in the ACC in pass efficiency (135.7). Ponder finished his collegiate career ranked 21st on the ACC’s career total offense list with 7,705 yards.
Ponder was one of three ACC players taken in the first round on Thursday. North Carolina defensive end Robert Quinn, an early entry into the NFL Draft, was taken two slots after Ponder, or 14th overall by the St. Louis Rams. Boston College offensive tackle Anthony Castonzo was the 22nd player taken on the first round by the Indianapolis Colts.
Quinn, from Ladson, S.C., did not play in the 2010 season, while serving a suspension for violation of NCAA Rules, but enjoyed a strong sophomore campaign in 2009 finishing second in the ACC in quarterback sacks and leading the conference in tackles for loss and earning first-team All-ACC honors. Quinn also was honored by the ACC after his freshman season as winner of the league’s Brian Piccolo Award, which annually is presented to the league’s most courageous player. Quinn overcame surgery for a brain tumor in high school to start for the Tar Heels as a redshirt freshman in 2008.
Castonzo, from Hawthorn Woods, Ill., is a three-time member of the All-ACC Academic Football Team. He started an eye-catching 54 games in his career at offensive tackle with the Eagles and earned second-team All-America honors from the Walter Camp Foundation this year. He is a two-time first-team All-ACC honoree at offensive tackle and was honored by the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame as one of its 2010 National Scholar-Athletes.
The NFL Draft resumes Friday night with the second and third rounds, beginning at 6 p.m.