‘Tis the season for college visits.
We’re almost exactly one month away from the start of high school spring football, and for you football aficionados who can’t get enough, it can’t come soon enough.
So we at thecrescentbuzz.com will do our best to pepper you with a few gridiron tidbits and golden nuggets of information as we inch closer to the season.
That’s where Lovejoy offensive lineman Tirrell Ponder comes in. At 6-feet, 245 pounds, Ponder may seem undersized to be an offensive guard and defensive tackle, but what Ponder lacks in size and girth he makes up for in heart and determination.
He sat behind a stellar Lovejoy group of trenchmen last season led by four-year offensive line starter Randy Robinson who has signed with Jacksonville State. That’s the same school Ponder, along with several other Lovejoy football players and players from other Southern Crescent schools visited this past weekend.
Ponder, a rising senior, currently has a 3.1 grade point average and said he’d like to study Criminology or business. He agreed to chat with us and tell us about what he experienced on his visit and what he’s looking forward to in the upcoming football season.
SCBuzz: What were your first impressions after stepping on the campus at Jacksonville State?
PONDER: “It was nice. It was very, very nice. I liked the scenery of the school and I liked the location as well. They haven’t offered yet, but they’ve shown strong interest, so it could be a good fit.”
SCBuzz: How did the visit itself go? What all did you guys do?
PONDER: “It was a great opportunity. It was a nice time there. They made us feel welcome from the very beginning. As far as what we did, well, first we watched a scrimmage early in the morning, and afterword we toured the campus and we had the chance to here student-athletes and coaches just tell us about how it is living in Jacksonville.”
SCBuzz: Jacksonville State’s got a big Southern Crescent representation, including some Lovejoy guys. Did you get a chance to see any?
PONDER: Yes, it was (former Lovejoy defensive back) Jermaine Hough. He talked to us about the campus and how it’s like up there, and what it’s like to play there and be a Gamecock. It was pretty cool.”
SCBuzz: Is this the first visit you’ve been on so far?
PONDER: “No. I’ve been to Furman, and they’ve shown some strong interest. South Carolina State University has shown some strong interest too, but I haven’t gone there yet.”
SCBuzz: Let’s talk about your role on the interior lines for Lovejoy. How do you see your role on the team increasing in the coming season?
PONDER: “I know it’s going to definitely be a new role for me. I’m going to be a senior, so it’s going to be more like leadership on the offensive line. We’ve only got onne returning starter on the offensive line coming back. It’s kind of a leadership role because I know I’m going to be called on to help out the young ones. Hopefully we can have a great season and make a great run.
SCBuzz: You’ve spent the last three years watching some state champion caliber line play, especially from guys like Randy Robinson. How much have you learned from guys like him?
PONDER: “Man, it’s been a great experience to witness everything that’s been happening and that’s going on right now at Lovejoy. I learned a lot of leadership roles especially from Randy. He basically taught me what it means to take on a leadership role. He showed me how to be prepared and be ready to go into the game at any time. He taught me game detail and just really showed me what I need to do to get ready for 6A football.”
SCBuzz: Where do you think you can improve as a player, and what would you say are your strengths?
PONDER: “I can say that I think I can improve on screen plays, and do better on pulling and just my overall quickness. As for strengths, definitely run blocking. I’m really good with run blocking and that’s truly my strength.”
SCBuzz: Was this your first visit? And if not, do you have an early favorite as to where you’d like to go?
PONDER: “It’s not my first. I visited Furman last week, and I guess if I had to choose my favorite so far, the place I like most would be Furman. The campus showed me more, and the love from the coaching staff especially (defensive line) coach (Jimmy) Lindsey.”
SCBuzz: Was being with some of the other guys from Lovejoy a cool experience for you?
PONDER: “Oh yes sir, it was great. I went with Chris Henderson (defensive end) and Ian Cooper (cornerback). It felt more comfortable and it just allowed us to have a little bit more fun. It made us want to work more on just staying healthy and keep conditioning like we’re doing now in the offseason, and just getting ready for spring football and senior year.”
Check out Tirrell Ponder’s Highlight Video: