Hopkins, Manuel, Ponder, Sanders recognized for academic and on-field success.
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Four Florida State players, including quarterbacks Christian Ponder and E.J. Manuel, kicker Dustin Hopkins and right tackle Zebrie Sanders have been selected to the 52-member All-Atlantic Coast Conference Academic football team announced by the league office on Thursday by ACC commissioner John Swofford.
It's the 57th season the league has recognized its most outstanding football players who combine academic prowess with on-field excellence. Players must have earned a minimum 3.00 grade point average for the fall semester and maintained a 3.00 cumulative average during their academic careers in order to be eligible for consideration.
Ponder has earned All-ACC Academic honors three straight years while Manuel and Hopkins appear on the team for their second straight year. Sanders is making his first appearance on the team.
Ponder, who was third in the ACC in passing efficiency and seventh in total offense and helped Florida State to a 10-4 record and a No. 16 national ranking, was chosen last November as the 2010 ACC Jim Tatum Award winner as the Conference's top football scholar-athlete. Ponder earned his MBA degree last August and is currently working on his second graduate degree in the sports management program.
Manuel, who now has a 5-1 record as a starter after leading the 'Noles to wins over Clemson and South Carolina in the 2010 Chick-fil-A Bowl, holds a 3.165 gpa as a communications major. He was named ACC Offensive Back of the Week after passing for 210 yards and rushing for another 71 in the 16-13 win over Clemson. He completed 65-of-93 passes for 861 yards and four touchdowns and rushed for 170 yards in 10 games this season.
Ponder and Manuel were two of the ACC quarterbacks selected to the team, joining NC State's Russell Wilson and Duke's Sean Renfree.
Hopkins, a sophomore kicker and communications major, holds a 3.838 gpa. On the field, Hopkins ranked third in the ACC among kickers by averaging 8.5 points per game while leading the league in touchbacks and boasting the longest field goal. His 55-yard game-winning field goal against Clemson was the third-longest field goal in school history. Hopkins' 119 points not only led the Seminoles in scoring, but was the third-highest single-season total at Florida State.
Sanders, a junior right tackle and Retail Merchandising and Product Development major, holds a 3.099 gpa. He turned in one of his best seasons as a 'Nole in his third season as a starter. He started all 14 games - one at left tackle and earned Co-ACC Offensive Lineman of the Week honors for his performance in the season opener against Samford. He was third among all FSU lineman with 37 career starters, which included 23 consecutive starts, which was second only to Ryan McMahon.