Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Local Walk-Ons Are Working out for 'Noles; Both Switched Positions, and Lee High's Wallace Has Earned Scholarship

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Local Walk-Ons Are Working out for 'Noles; Both Switched Positions, and Lee High's Wallace Has Earned Scholarship

Article excerpt

Byline: Garry Smits

TALLAHASSEE | There was an important scene in the movie "Rudy" when he told a Notre Dame starter that it was his job, as a walk-on and scout-team player, to go all out in practice "to help you guys get ready."

Jonathan Wallace and Cam Ponder believe the reverse. The two First Coast-area players credit their current positions on Florida State's second team entering Monday's game at Pittsburgh to how often FSU first-team players pounded on them, one hot exhausting practice after another.

"I owe guys like [former FSU defensive ends] Brandon Jenkins and Bjorn Werner a lot ... I owe them big-time," said Wallace, a senior offensive tackle from Lee High, who went from scout team player of the year in 2010 to being put on scholarship this summer. "I was thrown into the fire against them and it made me better."

Ponder, a junior fullback and an invited walk-on from Yulee High, said trying to block teammates such as linebacker Christian Jones in practice ["I loved watching him play on TV."] more than replicates anything he'll see in games.

"It really doesn't get any better than the guys I see every day in practice," he said. "I go against some of the best players in college football. That motivates me to keep working and improving."

Wallace is backing up Bobby Hart at right tackle. He played in all 14 games last season, mostly on the extra-point/field goal team but had a high of only six snaps in one game at tackle.

Still, Wallace was rewarded during the summer with a scholarship. He said the feeling is different than being a walk-on, even if his role hasn't changed appreciably over 2012.

"It feels a little different in that I don't have to worry about tuition, housing or meals," he said. "That's a load off my mind. But [line coach Rick] Trickett has treated everyone on the line the same way. I've always been treated fairly."

It's a goal that Ponder has uppermost in his mind.

"It would mean the world to me," he said of the possibility of being put on scholarship.

FSU coach Jimbo Fisher said Wallace and Ponder have shown him what he expects out of walk-ons - especially those who want to be put on scholarship one day. …

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