Pouncey on an identical path


Florida center Mike Pouncey runs a drill during UF Pro Day at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on March 15, 2011 in Gainesville, Fla.

Matt Stamey/Staff photographer
Published: Tuesday, March 15, 2011 at 4:46 p.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, March 15, 2011 at 4:46 p.m.

Team Pouncey goes everywhere the Pouncey twins go, whether it’s Pittsburgh or Gaineville or any football destination in between. On Tuesday in The Swamp, the team showed up in force, and in uniform, to show its support for Mike Pouncey on Pro Day.

Dozens of family members and friends were spread out around Florida Field wearing identical black T-shirts. On the front was emblazoned: “Team Pouncey.”

On the back, there was a message for the NFL coaches and scouts just in case they didn’t know it: “2 of a Kind.”

Of course, the NFL guys didn’t need to be reminded. They can see with their own eyes — in the tapes they’ve watched and what they saw in person Tuesday.

Mike Pouncey is a lot like his identical twin Maurkice, who was taken in the first round by the Pittsburgh Steelers a year ago and was an All-Pro in his rookie season.

They look alike, they play alike.

“They’re very similar in a lot of ways,” said Pittsburgh offensive line coach Sean Kugler, one of several NFL o-line coaches who put Mike Pouncey through position drills Tuesday. “Great kids, great family. I certainly enjoy coaching Maurkice. Wherever his brother ends up, he’ll do a great job as well.”

Kugler was asked if he could imagine having the Pounceys side-by-side on the same offensive line for years to come.

“I can,” he said. “I don’t know if will happen, but I can.”

Because of Maurkice’s rookie success in 2010, Mike has become one of the most intriguing stories in the 2011 draft because he is Maurkice’s twin.

Will Mike turn out to be the same center sensation that his twin already has become at the next level?

“I hope so,” said Maurkice, who was part Team Pouncey on Tuesday. “We’ve got the same blood. It looks so good for him. It’s all laid out for him. Now, all he has to do is go out and perform.”

Mike did that Tuesday — and the coaches and scouts seemed impressed.

“As a human being, of course it (the fact he is Maurkice’s twin) has an effect somewhere in your mind,” Jacksonville Jaguars offensive line coach Andy Heck said. “You try to grade guys objectively. Their film is their film and you look at it and you grade it.

“It’s hard to tell them apart in person and sometimes it’s hard to tell them apart on film. I like his versatility. In the NFL, at every position guys have got to be able to cross train.”

Like his twin, Mike Pouncey made the move from offensive guard to center at Florida and is considered versatile enough to play both positions in the NFL.

“Both guys can play center or guard,” Jaguars general manager Gene Smith said. “Versatility equals value. (Mike) did a nice job out there.”

Maurkice was drafted with the 18th overall selection by the Steelers. He was projected as a starter at guard, but emerged as the No. 1 center early in training camp and went on to have an All-Pro season.

Mike Pouncey, who moved from guard to center the spring before his senior season at UF, had some problems with shotgun snaps early last season, but settled in and had an excellent season in the middle of the UF line.

Smith said he sees Mike as a center in the NFL.

“I think so,” Smith said. “There are more guards than centers for obvious reasons. I know from my standpoint, a guard that can play center has more value. I feel like he’s a guy who certainly can do that.”

Pouncey said virtually all the drills he’s done at the NFL combine and at Pro Day have been at center.

“I don’t sell (what Maurkice did a center his rookie season),” he said. “They see we play just alike. He’s doing so well at center at the next level. I think a team will throw me in at center and let me settle at that position.

“If not, I’ll play guard. I’ll play any position they want me to. So far, everyone’s been working me at center and it’s been going real well. I think center is where I’ll be playing at the next level.”

Pouncey said he’s met with numerous teams, with the strongest interest coming from the Dolphins, Patriots, Giants, Jaguars and Buccaneers. He said he plans to travel to Detroit to meet with the Lions today.

Pouncey said he’s hearing he’ll be drafted in the first round, somewhere between the 15th and 20th picks.

The scouts seem just as impressed with his personality and leadership qualities as they are with his physical skills.

“He’s engaging,” Smith said. “I think he’s the type of guy that people gravitate to because he is kind of an outgoing type personality and very easy to get along with. You can feel his passion for the sport. Not just seeing him play. You can feel his passion when you get up close to him.

“That would be beneficial not just to the offensive line group but to your whole team. That’s a benefit at a position that’s really the quarterback for the the offensive line.”

Pouncey said if he’s invited by the NFL to attend the draft in New York, he’ll go,and some members of Team Pouncey will go with him.

“We’ve got a big family,” Pouncey said. “Everything we do, we always do it together.”

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