Ponder during summer training camp with the Minnesota Vikings.
|No. -- Free agent|
|Date of birth:||February 25, 1988|
|Place of birth:||Dallas, Texas|
|Height:||6 ft 2 in (1.88 m)|
|Weight:||229 lb (104 kg)|
|High school:||Colleyville (TX) Heritage|
|NFL draft:||2011 / Round: 1 / Pick: 12|
|* Offseason and/or practice squad member only|
|Roster status:||Unrestricted Free Agent|
|Career highlights and awards|
|Career NFL statistics as of 2014|
|Stats at NFL.com|
|Stats at pro-football-reference.com|
Christian Andrew Ponder (born February 25, 1988), is an American football quarterback who is currently a free agent. He was drafted by the Minnesota Vikings with the 12th overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft. He played college football at Florida State University and was the Seminoles starting quarterback from 2008 to 2010.
- 1 Early years
- 2 College career
- 3 Professional career
- 4 Personal life
- 5 References
- 6 External links
Ponder was born in Dallas, Texas and grew up in Grapevine, Texas. His father, David Ponder, played college football for Florida State as a defensive lineman from 1980 to 1983, and thus Christian Ponder is one of several father-son duos who have both played for Bobby Bowden, who coached the Seminoles until the end of the 2009 season. Christian Ponder attended Colleyville Heritage High School, where he played football. In 2004, he was the starting quarterback and threw for 1,500 yards and seven touchdowns. As a senior, he passed for 1,214 yards and 20 touchdowns and rushed for 911 yards and 12 touchdowns.
The Dallas Morning News named him to their all-district first team. Scout.com named him the 20th-ranked quarterback prospect, while Rivals.com rated him the 14th-ranked pro-style quarterback and the 50th-ranked college prospect from Texas. He received scholarship offers from Baylor, Florida State, Georgia Tech, Iowa State, North Carolina, and Texas Christian.
In 2006, Ponder sat out his true freshman season at Florida State on redshirt status. In 2007, he served as the back-up behind starting quarterback Drew Weatherford. Ponder saw action against Virginia Tech when Weatherford was taken out of the game due to an injury in the second quarter. Although Florida State lost, 40–21, Ponder completed eight out of 18 passing attempts for 105 yards and one touchdown.
Before the 2008 season, Ponder was named the starting quarterback ahead of senior Weatherford. The Miami Herald said that the decision showed the coaching staff put "a premium on mobility over maturity." Ponder started in all 13 games, and completed 177 passes on 318 attempts for 1,006 yards, 14 touchdowns, and 13 interceptions. He also made 119 rushing attempts for 423 yards and four touchdowns. The Seminoles finished the season with a 9–4 record, including a victory over Wisconsin in the Champs Sports Bowl. At season's end, Ponder was named the team's most valuable offensive player.
In 2009, Ponder was well on his way to a career season when he suffered a season ending shoulder injury at Clemson. Through the first eight games of the season, he led the ACC in passing average per game and was one of the national leaders in yards and passing efficiency. He threw for over 2,700 yards and 14 touchdowns and considered jumping to the NFL a year early. However, after hitting Clemson safety DeAndre McDaniel on an interception return, Ponder separated his shoulder and missed the rest of the season. This ended his professional hopes, at least for one year. He resumed his role as the starting quarterback in 2010.
Before the 2010 season, Ponder was named to the Maxwell Award watch list. Florida State launched a campaign promoting Ponder as a Heisman Trophy candidate in July 2010. During the 2010 season, Ponder battled numerous setbacks to his health, including a swollen bursa sac in his throwing elbow. He re-injured the elbow numerous times during the season, and had to have it drained three times.
The 2010 season, Ponder's senior year and only year under coach Jimbo Fisher, had seen the greatest amount of success for the quarterback. Ponder was the first Seminole quarterback since Chris Weinke in 1999 to lead his team to victories over both its in-state rivals, Miami and Florida. He also won the 2010 James Tatum award, given to the nation's top student-athlete, and a National Football Foundation Scholar-Athlete Award. He also won the Bobby Bowden Award presented to the top student athlete among FBS schools. Ponder graduated from Florida State in two and a half years with a degree in finance and a 3.73 GPA, then an MBA, and is studying for his second graduate degree, in sports management. At the 2011 Under Armour Senior Bowl, Ponder won MVP honors after throwing for 2 TD's and leading the South to a win over the heavily favored North.
|Ht||Wt||Arm length||Hand size||40-yd dash||10-yd split||20-yd split||20-ss||3-cone||Vert||Broad||BP||Wonderlic|
|6 ft 2 in||229 lb||32⅛ in||10¼ in||4.63 s||1.57 s||2.62 s||4.09 s||6.85 s||34 in||9 ft 8 in||x reps||35|
|All values from 2011 NFL Scouting Combine. |
Ponder was selected 12th overall by the Minnesota Vikings in the first round of the 2011 NFL Draft. He signed with them on July 31, 2011, shortly after the 2011 NFL lockout ended. Ponder announced in his introduction press conference that he intended to wear jersey number 7 in the NFL.
He made his NFL debut against the Chicago Bears in the fourth quarter on October 16, 2011. It was announced on Tuesday, October 18, that he would make his first start the following Sunday against the Green Bay Packers. On Ponder's first career pass attempt as a starter he hit Michael Jenkins on a 72-yard play-action pass. Two plays later, he hit Visanthe Shiancoe in the end zone on another playaction pass. He finished the game 13 of 32 for 219 yards with 2 TDs and 2 INTs in the 33–27 loss. Ponder was able to get his first win as an NFL starting quarterback with the Minnesota Vikings the following week against Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers on October 30, 2011. He threw for 236 yards and a touchdown, and had a passer rating of 102.7. After a bye week, the Vikings faced off against the Packers again, this time on Monday Night Football at Lambeau Field. Ponder didn't perform as well as he did the first time around, and the Vikings were blown out 45-7. He threw two touchdowns and three interceptions against the Oakland Raiders in a losing effort. Ponder began to struggle down the stretch of his rookie campaign, losing games to the Atlanta Falcons, and the Denver Broncos. In the game against the Broncos, he threw a crucial interception late in the fourth quarter to set up Tim Tebow and the Broncos for a game-winning drive. The next week, Ponder was injured in a game against the rival Detroit Lions at Ford Field. Backup quarterback Joe Webb nearly brought Minnesota to a victory. After a loss to the NFC South champion New Orleans Saints, Ponder was injured in each of the final two regular season games, at the Washington Redskins and in the season finale against the Chicago Bears. Ponder finished the season throwing 13 touchdown passes and 13 interceptions.
In the 2012 season through his first five games, he threw for 7 touchdowns and 0 interceptions. Adrian Peterson would lead the Vikings to the playoffs that year with 2,097 rushing yards, 9 yards short of breaking the NFL record. Ponder started all 16 season games and ended it with arguably the best game of his career as he led the Vikings to victory against the rival Green Bay Packers. In the game he threw for 3 touchdowns and no interceptions while posting a career high 120.2 passer rating. However, he did not play in their 24–10 playoff loss against the Green Bay Packers on January 5, 2013, due to a deep triceps bruise. His backup, Joe Webb, took his place.
Ponder went into the 2013 season as the starting quarterback. Early on, however, he would compete with Matt Cassel and, later, Josh Freeman for the starter role. Ponder started the majority of games (9) for the Vikings as he did the past two seasons, but had not played in an entire game the Vikings would win. The Vikings started their season off on a very bad foot, and Ponder also struggled, having thrown for a combined 691 yards with two passing touchdowns and five interceptions in the first three games. He was benched in week 4, due to a thumb injury, in favor of Cassel, who would end up leading the Vikings to a win over the Steelers in week 4. Ponder would later be given another chance in week 8 against the Packers as the Vikings started 1–7 in the season. However, he continued to regress and struggle as a starter. Ponder's last game of the season, week 13 against the Bears, ended early for him when he went down with a concussion. Thereafter, Cassel, who had statistically outplayed Ponder as a quarterback, would be the Vikings' starter. Ponder finished the season with more interceptions than passing touchdowns and having turned the ball over at least once in the majority of games he played. The Vikings would end up winless on the road (the Vikings were the home team in the International Series game against the Steelers) but would win their last four home games to end the season 5–10–1.
Following a disappointing season and having been outplayed by Cassel, Ponder's future with the Vikings fell in doubt. With the Vikings obtaining a new coaching staff and having drafted notable quarterback prospect Teddy Bridgewater in the 2014 NFL Draft, Ponder was effectively rendered a third-string quarterback. Despite this, Ponder stated that he wished to stay with the Vikings, stating that he had learned a lot from new offensive coordinator Norv Turner. Ponder didn't throw for touchdowns or interceptions in preseason, and would remain on the Vikings' 53 man roster. However, he would remain a backup quarterback for the team throughout the season. Cassel ended up being the Vikings' starter, but would be placed on IR after a foot injury, forcing the Vikings to start Bridgewater for the remainder of the season. Ponder would fill in for Bridgewater when he injured his ankle late in his first career start, which was a 41–28 win over the Atlanta Falcons. Ponder would do little more than hand the ball off to rookie running back Jerick McKinnon as the Vikings preserved and added to their lead in the game. Ponder would get his lone start of the season when Bridgewater was ruled out of the next matchup, a Thursday Night Football game against the Green Bay Packers. The game went downhill very quickly for the Vikings and especially for Ponder, as he struggled on offense early on and threw two interceptions in the second quarter that led to Packers' touchdowns en route to a 28–0 deficit by halftime. Ponder would pick up the pace somewhat after the half and spearhead a pair of Vikings' scoring drives, including running for the Vikings' lone touchdown in the 42–10 loss. With Bridgewater healthy, Ponder would thereafter remain the backup for the rest of the season.
Because the Vikings chose not to extend a fifth year option with Ponder, he became an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season. He accrued a 14–21–1 record as a starter for the Vikings, having started the majority of games for them from 2011 to 2013.
On March 13, 2015, Ponder signed with the Oakland Raiders. In Oakland, he was reunited with offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave, who coordinated the offense on the Vikings before being fired after the 2013 season. Ponder played with Oakland's 2nd team offense behind starter Derek Carr, ahead of Matt McGloin. After four preseason games, the Raiders released Ponder in favor of having McGloin be their backup.
Minnesota Vikings franchise records
Ponder married ESPN reporter Samantha Steele on December 17, 2012. Their first child, a daughter named Bowden Saint-Claire Ponder was born July 22, 2014. Bowden Ponder was named after Christian's college football coach at Florida State, Bobby Bowden.
- "Ponder marries ESPN sideline reporter in Hudson". KARE. December 19, 2012. Retrieved November 3, 2013.
- Player Bio: Christian Ponder, Florida State University. Retrieved August 4, 2009.
- Christian Ponder Profile, Scout.com. Retrieved August 4, 2009.
- Christian Ponder, Rivals.com. Retrieved August 4, 2009.
- Sophomore Christian Ponder named new starting quarterback for Florida State, The Miami Herald, p. D6, September 4, 2008.
- Christian Ponder Stats, ESPN. Retrieved August 4, 2009.
- Brian Landman, Florida State quarterback Christian Ponder out for the year, needs shoulder surgery
- "Ponder selected to 2010 Maxwell Award watch list" Retrieved on 2010-7-11
- Ponder Heisman campaign on the way?, ESPN, July 1, 2010.
- Dinich, Heather. "Ponder wins James Tatum Award – ACC Blog – ESPN". Espn.go.com. Retrieved 2010-12-02.
- Carter, Andrew (2010-11-03). "Florida State QB Christian Ponder wins $18,000 postgraduate scholarship.". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved 2010-12-27.
- "Christian Ponder". nfldraftscout.com. Retrieved 2011-04-26.
- Farrar, Doug (2011-07-28). "Christian Ponder goes to Minnesota Vikings with 12th pick in NFL Draft - Shutdown Corner - NFL Blog - Yahoo! Sports". Sports.yahoo.com. Retrieved 2011-08-01.
- Alcaraz, Gil (2011-07-28). "Vikings Sign First Round Pick Ponder - NFL - Yahoo! Sports". Sports.yahoo.com. Retrieved 2011-08-01.
- "Ponder / Frazier Presser - 4/29". Vikings.com. Retrieved 2011-08-01.[dead link]
- Wiederer, Dan. "Report: Christian Ponder named Vikings starter for Sunday". StarTribune.com. Retrieved 2012-09-30.
- "Christian Ponder - Minnesota Vikings - 2012 Player Profile". Rotoworld.com. Retrieved 2012-09-30.
- "Minnesota Vikings | 2011 - Regular Season Week No. 8 - at Carolina Panthers". Vikings.com. 2012-09-23. Retrieved 2012-09-30.
- "Christian Ponder (tricep) inactive". ESPN. Retrieved 6 January 2013.
- "Vikings QB Christian Ponder on fans booing him: 'I hear it. Everyone hears it.'". Chris Tomasson. twincities.com.
- "Raiders Sign QB Christian Ponder". Raiders.com. Retrieved 13 March 2015.
- The Leader-Telegramtwincities.com (2012-12-19). "Samantha Steele, Christian Ponder marry in Hudson". TwinCities.com. Retrieved 2013-01-07.
- Chase, Chris (July 22, 2014). "Christian Ponder named his daughter after Bobby Bowden". USA Today.
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