Just a few days from their season opener on the road at Pitt, Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher received some bad news: redshirt freshman Mario Pender is not academically eligible for the upcoming season.
"I found out yesterday," said Fisher. "This had nothing to with the depth chart – I found out late last night – (Mario) Pender is in school, he is going to be in school, but he received one grade too less so he is ineligible. He cannot play (this season).
"He’s still in school. He’s still participating on the team and still practicing. We were thinking that he was going to be okay, but it comes back one grade short. They thought everything was good; everything was okay but the actual final grade came back different so we won’ t have him. It’s unfortunate. He was having a great camp, too.”
Pender has had a tough time since arriving in Tallahassee in the Spring of 2012. The former Cape Coral standout graduated high school a semester early in order to enroll for the Spring semester and get a jump on what would have been his freshman season. Instead, Pender suffered a sports hernia, had surgery and missed the year.
While Pender was active this past Spring, he was held out of the start of camp as Florida State waited on one of his grades to post. Then on Thursday, Fisher announced Pender would not be eligible academically and would miss his second straight season.
In Pender's place, true freshman Ryan Green is likely to be the guy getting carries. Green - a former St. Pete Catholic standout - was highly recruited this past off-season. He has speed and plenty of ability, as Fisher mentioned during his Wednesday press conference, what he does not have is experience.
Now with Lonnie Pryor, Debrale Smiley and Chris Thompson graduated, and Pender out, the slack will need to be taken up by James Wilder Jr., Devonta Freeman and Chad Abrams even more.
Florida State has not had a 1,000 yard rusher since Warrick Dunn left Tallahassee. Given the newfound concerns about depth at that position, this could be year though.
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