Nick Saban’s loss is Jim McElwain‘s gain. The Florida Gators coach on Tuesday received news that should positively impact his team’s chances in 2016 when top-rated kicker Eddy Pineiro (North Miami Beach, FL) committed to Florida just 24 hours after decommitting from Alabama.
The Gators had been hot after Pineiro (6-foot-1, 180 pounds) for quite some time, meeting with the prospect three times over a two-month span. Florida can offer an immediate starting job to the in-state prospect, who is described by Kornblue Kicking – a well-known training organization – as a guy who “might be the most explosive placekicker ever to have come through our camps.”
What is especially interesting about Pineiro is that he is currently on a soccer scholarship at ASA College Miami, a junior college. When it became evident that the midfielder had an aptitude for kicking field goals, he chose not to continue playing soccer and instead concentrated on football. Pineiro began training as a football kicker in February, won a seasonal kicking challenge in April with an 86-yard kickoff and 71-yard field goal (off a post), and began receiving scholarship offers shortly thereafter.
“He had the tools. He had the strength. But he had no idea where he was putting the ball, no form or anything like that,” Brandon Kornblue, Pineiro’s kicking instructor, told OnlyGators.com on Tuesday. “Within those three months there, from February to April, is when it all came together.”
Because Pineiro was not a member of the school’s 2015 football team – despite doing kickoffs and kicking extra points occasionally as a senior, he never kicked a field goal in a high school game or played in a collegiate contest – he will join the Gators with four years of eligibility remaining.
Blessed to make this decision … I'm OFFICIALLY a FLORIDA GATOR I'm ready to Chomp Chomp pic.twitter.com/vdPAJZ3Tcu
— Eddy Pineiro (@eddypineiro1) December 16, 2015
Pineiro’s inexperience can be seen as a legitimate concern, but Kornblue believes his pupil’s years of playing competitive soccer and overall mindset will allow him to easily overcome any speed bumps.
“In every competitive environment he’s been in – in our competitions, in training sessions – he’s always been solid. He’s always performed well. He’s won competitions left and right. He’s got that fire. He’s played soccer at a high level and pressure has never gotten to him. It’s not like he’s never played competitive team sports. And he has played football, he just hasn’t done it a lot,” Kornblue explained.
“Every kicker starts somewhere and then has to get some game experience to get going. … Based on the experience I have playing and coaching guys for decades, he’s probably the most explosive kid I’ve ever seen. That’s why he’s so coveted and highly recruited because you just can’t find that kind of strength and lift with anybody. It’s the combination of having the power and being a kid that’s coachable, that’s willing to take the coaching and then work on it. That’s why I have him touted so highly.”
Pineiro, who due to an inability to qualify was unable to accept a Division I soccer scholarship at Florida Atlantic, plans to receive his associate degree from ASA College Miami. Kornblue is also the trainer for Gators redshirt freshman walk-on K Jorge Powell.