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“You get close to a lot of guys but he’s special, he really is,” Fisher said. “He embodies everything. When you as a head coach think of what you want people to think of your program, the athletes you develop and who you have out there, he embodies all that. As a person off the field, what he does as a student and what he does as a competitor.”

Ponder’s highlights this season include wins over Florida and Miami. He has 2,038 yards passing and 177 yards rushing with four touchdowns.

Fisher said he is bolder in his play-calling with Ponder because he knows the senior won’t force a bad throw.

“It allows you to stay ahead of the stick and lets you be very aggressive,” Fisher said. “I know when I call it, if we get the right look, we’re going downtown. If not, he’s going to get me into something else and get me some yardage so we can call it the next play.

“It does change the whole way you call the game, big-time.”

Manuel, a sophomore, threw two interceptions, including one returned for a touchdown, in the loss to Virginia Tech. Manuel also started for Ponder and rushed for 71 yards in a 16-13 win over Clemson this season.

Manuel was the MVP of the Seminoles’ Gator Bowl win over West Virginia last season.

South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier said Ponder is “a tremendous talent” who also is a dangerous runner.

“He can run around, too,” Spurrier said. “That’s why I don’t think there’s a huge difference if either quarterback is in there.”