Cape Coral (Fla.) Island Coast running back Mario Pender has been committed to Florida State for over 13 months. This past weekend, he finally got to take his official visit to Tallahassee to watch the Seminoles host Virginia.
His favorite part of the trip was being able to bring his family up to the game.
"I had my mother and my father, as well as my brother, with me so it was a real good visit," Pender said. "They got to experience the school and see what it will be like when I get up there."
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While the Seminoles fell short to the Cavaliers, Pender said the tight game and the energetic crowd made an impression upon him and his family.
"I loved the atmosphere," Pender said. "I loved how they welcomed my parents and my brother. Also, the final seconds of that game in the stands were crazy. I just felt like we all bonded like one big family, my family and the student body as well as all the recruits that were up there. We just had a wonderful time."
Throughout the game, the 6-foot, 185-pound back paid close attention to the action on the field, with specific attention to how the running backs are utilized in the offense.
"I think I fit just perfect into that offense," Pender said. "(Devonta) Freeman is a pretty good back, he is hitting it right for them, but I see an opportunity. The schemes that they have, I feel I can come in and make a real big impact there."
During the visit, Pender was hosted by freshman running back Devonta Freeman.
"He was a great guy," Pender said. "He said it is just about going to work. He said everybody just works hard and that you just have to stay focused."
In addition to speaking with Freeman, Pender also had the opportunity to sit down and speak at length with his future head coach and position coach.
"When I sat down with Coach (Jimbo) Fisher we just talked about school a little bit and about getting me up there," Pender said. "Then I talked with Coach (Eddie) Gran and he talked about getting me up there in January, in just a month and a half. They were just fired up about that."
Pender is equally fired up about learning under the tutelage of Eddie Gran.
"I just can't wait," Pender said of playing for Gran. "I have heard time and time again he is one of the greatest running back coaches ever. I have my faith in him. I just can't wait to play for him."
While the four-star back has recently taken official visits to Tennessee and West Virginia, he says that he knows his future home is at the in-state school he opted for more than a year ago.
"I am going to FSU," Pender said. "I don't plan to visit anywhere else."
Pender said he plans to enroll at Florida State immediately following his participation in the U.S. Army All-American Game. Pender and the East team take on the West in the 12th annual U.S. Army All-American Bowl on Saturday, Jan. 7, 2012 at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas. The game will be nationally televised on NBC.
With regards to recent legal issues that Pender has encountered, he said that he had no concerns about his scholarship being pulled by the Seminoles.