Florida State RB Mario Pender finally saw the field for Florida State on Saturday against Oklahoma State and his 10-yard-per-carry performance could get hm some more playing time.
Pender had three carries for 31 yards, including an 11-yard touchdown. Karlos Williams got the majority of Florida State's carries (23), but coach Jimbo Fisher said Tuesday that Pender will see an increased workload.
“I think he will," Fisher said. "We wanted to give Karlos (Williams) one, get him lathered up because he hadn’t really ever started a game either. Get him some touches in a game and got going, and then the game got tighter. But I was extremely pleased with the way Mario (Pender) played. The look in his eye on the sideline, you didn’t see a guy who was in his first game. You saw a guy who was out there competing. Very composed and poised, and all the runs and touches he had. Caught the ball, he had one catch I believe, and the three runs were very productive. Right read, good runs, the guy is going to have a great career."
Pender, a redshirt sophomore, was a four-star running back in the class of 2012 according to Rivals. But he had surgery for a sports hernia before what was to be his true freshman season and redshirted while missing the entire season.
He was poised to be part of a crowded Florida State backfield in 2013 but was declared academically ineligible before the season. He ended up missing all of Florida State's national title-winning year.
That wasn't the end of Pender's drama before playing a down for Florida State, either. This spring he was involved in an incident with then-FSU lineman Ira Denson. Denson was arrested for theft after allegedly using Pender's credit card and a friend of his shot Pender's half brother during a confrontation about the situation.
Now, drama-free in time for the 2014 season, Pender has the opportunity to be a one-two punch with Williams in Florida State's backfield.
"Let me tell you something, I am so proud of him," Fisher said. "What he has overcome, what he has went through. From the things he had going on here he had to overcome, even in his personal life he had issues he couldn’t control. He overcame a lot and has really grown as a human being. I’ve said this before, an extremely intelligent man, great heart, good person. What he has overcome to get to where he is at, I can’t wait for him to have success. I really can’t.”
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