by RENALDO DORSETT
Bahamian gridiron star Mavin Saunders earned a noteworthy accolade in the classroom as he prepares for a breakout season on the field.
Saunders, headed into his redshirt sophomore season with the Florida State Seminoles this fall, was named to the Atlantic Coast Conference’s Academic Honour Roll.
The Seminoles produced a school-record 241 student-athletes make the ACC’s Academic Honor Roll, which was announced last Thursday.
To receive the honor, students have to maintain a 3.0 grade point average or better in the classroom, according to a release. As a whole, the ACC honored record 4,368 athletes. Duke had the most in the conference with 480 while Georgia Tech had the fewest with 165.
Other members of the Seminole football team to make the list include quarterback Deondre Francois and centers Corey Martinez and Ryan Hoefeld.
Saunders looks to have an expanded role this season in the Seminoles offence and make his impact on the field as well.
The Orlando Sentinel’s Brendan Sonnone outlined the impact he expects Saunders to have on the Seminoles and its tight end group this season.
“Saunders’ development should be fun to watch, simply because any improvement he makes should be noticeable given how raw he is. Coach Jimbo Fsher is very high on Saunders and thinks he can evolve into a dynamic receiving threat. As productive as Nick O’Leary was for FSU, he wasn’t a true downfield threat, but Saunders’ athleticism could enable him to be a matchup nightmare all over the field,” he said, “Working on becoming a more polished blockers is going to be big for Saunders so the staff can feel comfortable using him in every situation. On top of that, he must also come down with more 50-50 passes and take full advantage of his athletic gifts.”
The ended the 2015-16 season with a 38-24 loss to fellow Bahamian Alex Cooper and the No.14 ranked Houston Cougars in the Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl.
It was the first time Bahamians squared off on opposite sides of a major NCAA football bowl game and was also the final game of Cooper’s collegiate career.
The Seminoles finished the season at 10-3, 6-2 in the ACC to advance to a major bowl despite not earning a spot in the ACC conference championship game.
Saunders, the 6’5” 258-pound redshirt freshman tight end and Bimini native, has appeared in six games last season before being relegated to the sidelines due to a nagging back injury. In the season opener, he caught a single pass for five yards. His best game of the season was the first start of his collegiate career, when he finished with three receptions for 26 yards – both career highs – in the Seminoles’ 29-24 win over in-state rival, the University of Miami Hurricanes. He was pegged as one of the leading candidates to become a major contributor at tight end with the departure of senior standout Nick O’Leary.
Saunders was a standout this spring as the Seminoles wrapped up spring practice with the 2015 Garnet and Gold Game. He finished with six receptions for 91 yards and a touchdown. He appeared in just one game in his true freshman season – an October contest against Wake Forest – before he earned a medical redshirt.
Saunders was originally recruited to the Frank Rutherford Elite Development programme as a basketball player before making the shift to the gridiron in junior year of high school at The Kinkaid School in Texas.