If there was any one position on the Florida State Seminoles roster last year that lacked production, it certainly wasn’t at running back. With consistent performances from workhorses like Chris Thompson, James Wilder Jr., and Lonnie Pryor, the ‘Noles relied heavily on their backfield to succeed.
As much depth as the Seminoles had at the RB slot last year, this year could be an even more impressive one for FSU due to the debut of Sophomore Mario Pender.
There was a heap of buzz surrounding the young back coming into the 2012 season. In last April’s spring game, Pender showed the explosiveness through the tackles and the speed around the edges that had the Tallahassee faithful grinning with anticipation. But then, the rigors of August practice reared its ugly head.
It was determined in early August of last season that Pender would miss his entire Freshman season with what was described as a “serious” groin injury. The injury reportedly happened during the spring season and Head Coach Jimbo Fisher even anticipated Pender playing at some point last season, but ultimately decided that it would be best to sit him for the season and not aggravate the injury further.
Now however, barring any other unforeseen circumstances, it’s time to see what the former four-star back can do in Jimbo Fisher’s offense. Pender could bring a lot to the table that could boost an FSU offense that, no matter whom they choose, will be settling in with a new QB under center. The versatility he brings to the table adds just another weapon to the backfield arsenal that already includes Wilder and Junior Devonta Freeman.
Fisher has been pretty vocal about his excitement of Pender’s return, and with good reason. In his pistol-style offense, the Seminole coach loves to utilize his backs in all different kinds of ways. With Wilder being mainly a power-back and Freeman showing his best ability being catching the ball out of the backfield, Pender gives Fisher someone he can utilize in any situation.
The trio of running backs will no doubt be a major factor in how effective the Seminole offense is. With Pender possessing all of the attributes that he does, it shouldn’t surprise anyone if he were to be the breakout of star of not only the ACC, but the entire nation.