July 25, 2010
GREENSBORO, N.C. – Sunday’s opening day of the ACC Football Kickoff at the Grandover Resort began with a 5:45 a.m. ride to the airport in Tallahassee for Florida State senior quarterback Christian Ponder and redshirt sophomore defensive tackle Everett Dawkins.
More than 12 hours later, they finally retreated to their rooms, their voices worn from answering a myriad of questions from more than 300 media members assembled for the annual event.
“It was tiring, but it was fun,” said Ponder, who was one of the most sought-after players of the 24 in attendance, representing all 12 Atlantic Coast Conference schools.
Ponder is something of an old hand at the event, having represented the Seminoles at last year’s event. Still, he received considerably more attention in light of the www.cp7forheisman.com website and a handsome, leather-bound portfolio – complete with Ponder’s specially-made business card and resume – included in a gift packet that was distributed to every media member in attendance.
For Dawkins, the promising youngster whose work ethic earned him the nod from FSU head coach Jimbo Fisher as the Seminoles’ defensive representative, it was an eye-opening experience.
“It was cool,” said Dawkins. “I had fun with it. It was kind of what I expected.” There were actually few, if any, surprise questions fielded by the players from the assembled television, radio and print/electronic media. Naturally, the coaching transition to Fisher from Bobby Bowden, defensive system changes, goals and prospects for the 2010 season – the Seminoles appeared to be a popular choice to win the Atlantic Division in media balloting – ruled the day.
That, however, didn’t prevent a few topical and fun questions from surfacing as the players rotated through three separate sessions set up by medium. Ponder was asked about the challenges today’s players face in the light of recent unscrupulous agent activity.
“It’s easy not to accept [illegal benefits],” he told a room full television media. “You just have to realize you’re not supposed to do it. Everyone talks about the agent problem. Well it’s not a problem if you don’t make it a problem. You have to know how to handle the whole situation, and you have to know what’s right and wrong. You can’t put yourself in a bad situation or else it will cost you.”
On a somewhat lighter note, Ponder mugged for photos with Clemson safety DeAndre McDaniel; the player who dealt FSU’s star quarterback the season-ending shoulder injury in the ninth game of the year. Both Ponder and McDaniel burst out laughing when photographers asked them to pose looking mean.
That pretty much captured what was a busy, but light-hearted – and tiring – day. Along the way, the assembled media had a chance to learn a few things, like:
By the time the day was done, Ponder and Dawkins had learned that their voices weren’t ready for six consecutive hours of talking, even though they put forth their best effort.
Like most of the players in attendance, they’re ready for the season to begin.