With each booming field goal made last season, Florida kicker Eddy Pineiro developed a rock star following at The Swamp.
Chants of “Ed-dy, Ed-dy” echoed through the stadium each time Pineiro lined up to attempt to kick.
“It was pressure in the beginning, but now it’s a more comfortable feeling,” Pineiro said.
A transfer from ASA Community College in Miami, Pineiro had a breakout first season with the Gators, making 21 of 25 field goals as a redshirt sophomore in 2016. Of the 21 field goals, Pineiro made 11 kicks from 40 or more yards and was a perfect 3-for-3 on attempts from 50 yards or longer.
Pineiro made more headlines in May when he tweeted out a video showing him making an 81-yard field goal in pads (with no rush) during an offseason workout.
So, what can fans expect for an encore from Pineiro in 2017?
“My expectation is to hopefully make it to the Lou Groza finalist, that’s everybody’s goal,” Pineiro said of the award given to college football’s best kicker. “But, I missed four field goals last year and I’m trying to be perfect, as perfect as I can.”
For Pineiro to achieve perfection, Florida coach Jim McElwain said it will come down to his strong-legged kicker understanding that less is sometimes more.
“You don’t have to kick every one like it’s an 82-and-a-quarter — however long was that one was that he kicked,” McElwain said. “I don’t know if that was altered or whatever video-wise or how deep it was, but the biggest thing is go out and do your job, be who you are.”
Pineiro said he’s improved both his leg strength and the height of his kicks during the offseason. But Pineiro said he’s also heeded his coach’s advice when it comes to harnessing his power.
“I know I have a bunch of power in my leg, so it’s pretty much like getting that 80-percent swing, it’s not always like swinging 100 percent because sometimes when kickers swing 100 percent you tend to shank the ball,” Pineiro said. “So I’m just trying to minimize my power depending on where we are on the field.”
With the big sophomore season, Pineiro turned an area of weakness for Florida into an area of strength. In 2015, kickers Austin Hardin and Jorge Powell combined to make just 7 of 17 attempts. Pineiro said he gets a charge out of each field goal he makes, whether it’s home or away, because it contributes to team success.
“It feels good to do that,” Pineiro said. “I like to put points on the board and get my team going.”
Contact Kevin Brockway at 352-374-5054 or email@example.com. Also check out Brockway’s blog at Gatorsports.com.