Pounceys Split: Maurkice to NFL, Mike to center

Florida Gators offensive linemen and twin brothers Maurkice and Mike Pouncey have been inseparable since birth. Playing next to each other on the line at Lakeland High School and then with the Gators for three seasons, both knew that they would have to go different directions at one point or another. Though it was assumed that the separation would likely come when different teams picked them in the draft, it was always a hope that they would at least be able to leave school at the same time. Instead Maurkice, who plays center, has decided to forgo his senior season and enter the 2010 NFL Draft while Mike, a guard, remains in the Orange and Blue for one more year, according to Joe Schad of ESPN.

“This is one of the biggest decisions I have ever made in my life,” Maurkice said. “I am glad that my brother and I made the decision to be Gators. God gave us the knowledge, strength and ability to be great players, but it is now time for my brother and me to part ways. I would like to thank my family for standing behind me in the decision that I have made and my coaches for believing in me as a true freshman and helping me achieve everything that I have as a Gator. I would like to thank all the fans for cheering us on and getting us hyped up for the games. I am going to miss the Gator walks and the Gator Nation.”

“I’m very excited to come back and wear the Orange and Blue for the 2010 season,” Mike added. “I’m looking forward to being a leader on this team, having the opportunity to play center and continuing to learn from Coach Steve Addazio. It has been an honor to play here, so I can’t wait to run out into The Swamp for another year.”

Before the 2010 Sugar Bowl, the brothers both submitted paperwork for evaluations by the league’s Draft Advisory Board. It was decided long ago by the Pounceys and their mother Lisa Webster that each brother would only declare if his grade was determined to be a first- or second-round selection. Maurkice, who was awarded the 2009 Rimington Trophy for best collegiate center and plays a more specialized position, likely received this grade while Mike has decided to wait and improve his next season. Both Pounceys received honorable mentions in OGGOA‘s Florida Gators All-Decade Team and were unanimous All-SEC team selections.

“These are two guys who we’ve been able to build our program around for the last several years,” said head coach Urban Meyer. “They have both provided an unbelievable amount of leadership and energy to our team. These guys embody the toughness and physical style of play that we want Florida to be known for. We wish Maurkice the best of luck, and we’re looking forward to having Mike continue to be a leader on the team and anchor our offensive line.”

OGGOA previously reported that Mike intends to attempt playing center and could very well end up starting for the Gators at that position in 2010. Schad confirmed this report. Succeeding at such a move would make him a more valuable commodity at the end of next season and likely raise his draft stock as well.

“Maurkice has all the tools to succeed in the NFL,” interim head coach, offensive coordinator and offensive line coach Steve Addazio added. “There is no doubt in my mind that he will be a great player at the next level. I wish him nothing but the best because has been like a son to me. I also know that Mike has a great future ahead of him. I believe he will be the top returning offensive lineman in America. Coming back just gives him another opportunity to grow as a player and as a leader and will help him increase his positional versatility. Without question, Mike’s future is very bright.”

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Poll Reviews: Tebow, All-Decade, Meyer, moments

Over the past two weeks, OGGOA asked you to participate in six polls. Ranging from how senior quarterback Tim Tebow will fare in the NFL to what present you wanted for the holidays, your responses were quite varied and interesting. 1,753 combined votes (292 average – our highest ever) were cast, and the results are in. Here is a quick review:

How will Tim Tebow fare in the NFL?
Starting QB (42%, 137 votes)
Starter at different position (28%, 92 votes)
Bust (16%, 52 votes)
Pro Bowl QB (14%, 47 votes)

Which SI All-Decade honors should Florida Gators basketball also have been awarded? (May pick one or more.)
School of the Decade (55%, 95 votes)
Best Single-Season Team (47%, 82 votes)
Coach of the Decade (30%, 52 votes)
None of the above. (6%, 10 votes)

What present do you want for the holidays?
No. 1 football recruiting class (48%, 101 votes)
2010 Sugar Bowl victory (37%, 77 votes)
March Madness appearance (8%, 17 votes)
No more UF legal issues (7%, 14 votes)

Things were obviously light-hearted before last week, with Florida fans most concerned about Tebow’s future, where the SI All-Decade lists (basketball | football | overall) overlooked the basketball team and what gift would best be suited for Gator Nation over the holidays. To see that 84 percent of respondents believe Tebow will be a successful NFL player was interesting, especially the 28 percent who think he will play a different position. Also surprising was that fans would have preferred a No. 1 football recruiting class to a win in the 2010 Sugar Bowl. Looks like the Gators have a great shot at both.

How does coach Urban Meyer’s resignation amid health concerns make you feel?
Concerned (31%, 96 votes)
F***ed (27%, 83 votes)
Sad (23%, 73 votes)
Depressed (19%, 60 votes)

Urban Meyer is taking a leave instead of resigning. Did he make the right decision?
Yes – glad he’s back! (73%, 350 votes)
No – decision puts UF in limbo. (19%, 92 votes)
No – shouldn’t risk his health. (8%, 39 votes)

Sweetest 2010 Sugar Bowl moment…
Tebow’s performance (52%, 132 votes)
Overall team effort (36%, 91 votes)
Saying goodbye to seniors (6%, 16 votes)
Meyer’s hope to return (6%, 14 votes)

Last weekend brought two polls to OGGOA concerning Meyer. A total of almost 800 votes were cast, the vast majority over a 48-hour period. Emotions were obviously split across the board when Meyer first resigned, but the response was overwhelmingly positive when he changed his mind just 12 hours later. After the Sugar Bowl, it was all smiles and few frowns for Gators fans, as evidenced by the 88 percent who thought the sweetest moment was Tebow’s performance and the overall team effort.

On a side note, OGGOA purposely did not hold a poll for Sugar Bowl MVP. We have automatically awarded it to Tebow for obvious reasons.

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OGGOA Presents: Florida Gators All-Decade Team

The 2000s were quite a decade for University of Florida athletics. Florida Gators football and basketball were especially exceptional, combining for four National Championships (five appearances) and five Southeastern Conference Championships (six appearances) while earning five BCS bowl game and eight NCAA Tournament berths, respectively, over the last ten years. To end this decade of champions, OGGOA has compiled our own Gators All-Decade Team for each sport.

Continue Reading » OGGOA Presents: Florida Gators All-Decade Team

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More Gators honored on SI All-Decade lists

Sports Illustrated completed its All-Decade lists Tuesday covering everything from the top male athletes of the 2000s to the decade’s biggest flops. Florida Gators teams, players and alumni earned their way toward eight more notable distinctions.

Because the honors are many, you must view them all after the jump!
Continue Reading » More Gators honored on SI All-Decade lists

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Gators football honored on SI All-Decade lists

Sports Illustrated followed up its college basketball All-Decade lists published on Wednesday with a number of college football All-Decade lists Thursday, and the Florida Gators earned their way toward a few notable distinctions. In the main article, where SI went over the highlights and lowlights of the decade, the Gators took home three of the top honors: Player of the Decade, Best Coach and Signature Play.

PLAYER OF THE DECADE: Tim Tebow, Florida
A star from the day he set foot on campus, Tebow will graduate with two SEC championships, two BCS titles and a Heisman Trophy. He is 34-6 as a starter and set SEC career records for total yards (11,699), rushing touchdowns (56), total touchdowns (141) and rushing yards by a quarterback (2,899). His impact, though, extended beyond the box score. “I don’t think I have ever seen a better leader,” said Florida State coach Bobby Bowden.

BEST COACH: Urban Meyer, Bowling Green/Utah/Florida
Meyer, who became a head coach in 2001, turned around three programs this decade thanks to a hypercompetitive personality and relentless zeal for recruiting. He leads all active coaches with an .841 winning percentage (minimum five years) and is the only coach to win two BCS championships. Bowling Green, 2-9 the year before his arrival, went 17-6 in Meyer’s two seasons. Utah went 22-2 under his watch. Florida has gone 56-10 in his five seasons.

SIGNATURE PLAY: The Tim Tebow “jump pass”
Florida coaches Urban Meyer and Dan Mullen first broke out their throwback play in a 2006 game against LSU. Facing second-and-goal at the one, Tebow faked like he was running for the end zone, stopped, jumped into the air, double-clutched like a basketball player, then lobbed a touchdown pass to Tate Casey. Most memorably, Tebow used the play to throw a game-sealing TD to David Nelson in the 2008 BCS Championship Game against Oklahoma — this time on a perfect spiral with no hesitation.

Though Florida is well-represented on that list, the recognition did not stop. Tebow’s speech following the Gators’ loss to the Ole Miss Rebels on Sept. 27, 2008, named “The Promise,” was No. 5 on SI’s 10 signature moments of the decade. “Following an inexplicable 31-30 home loss to Ole Miss, Tebow finished his usual question-and-answer session, but the 2007 Heisman Trophy winner wasn’t done talking,” Andy Staples writes. “Tebow honored his pledge. The Gators won their next 10 games, outscoring opponents 469-131. Florida rolled to the BCS title, and after the season, the school memorialized Tebow’s promise by inscribing it on a plaque that stands outside Florida Field.”

Tebow was also named as the starting quarterback for SI’s All-Decade Team. “A star from the day he set foot on campus, Tebow will graduate with two SEC championships, two BCS titles and a Heisman Trophy,” writes Stewart Mandel. “He is 34-6 as a starter and set SEC career records for total yards (11,699), rushing touchdowns (56), total touchdowns (141) and rushing yards by a quarterback (2,899). His impact, though, extended beyond the box score. ‘I don’t think I have ever seen a better leader,’ said Florida State coach Bobby Bowden.”

Mandel followed that up by naming Meyer as the All-Decade Team’s head coach. “Meyer, who became a head coach in 2001, turned around three programs this decade thanks to a hypercompetitive personality and relentless zeal for recruiting. He leads all active coaches with an .841 winning percentage (minimum five years) and is the only coach to win two BCS championships. Bowling Green, 2-9 the year before his arrival, went 17-6 in Meyer’s two seasons. Utah went 22-2 under his watch. Florida has gone 56-10 in his five seasons.”

SI is not done either. Tebow’s Heisman Trophy-worthy performance against the South Carolina Gamecocks on Nov. 10, 2007, earned him one of the decade’s most memorable college football performances. “Heisman Trophy voters had almost come around to the idea of giving the award to a sophomore when the Gators traveled to Columbia. In case anyone was still on the fence, Tebow erased all doubt, throwing for two touchdowns and rushing for five more in a 51-31 win. “That was a Heisman performance tonight,” Florida coach Urban Meyer said. “In fact, it was one of the best performances by a football player that I have ever seen.””

It was not all sunny for Florida on these lists. The Gators were the No. 8 entry on lists for the Top 10 College Football Games of the 2000s and Top 10 College Football Upsets of the 2000s for losses to the LSU Tigers (24-28 in 2007) and the Tennessee Volunteers (32-34 in 2001), respectively.

Referring back to the initial list, Mandel tabbed the Southeastern Conference the decade’s Best Conference and the spread-option as the Best Innovation of the decade.

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Gators basketball honored on SI All-Decade lists

Sports Illustrated came out with a number of college basketball All-Decade lists on Wednesday, and Florida Gators players earned their way toward a few notable distinctions. On the main list, where SI went over the “highlights and lowlights of the decade,” Florida’s “Oh-Fours” were named the 2000s’ best recruiting class. An obvious choice.

“When Joakim Noah, Al Horford, Corey Brewer and Taurean Green all signed with Florida, nobody heralded this quartet as the Fab anything,” Seth Davis writes. “Yet, by the end of their junior year, they had led the Gators to back-to-back national championships. All except Green had the opportunity to be first-round draft picks as sophomores, but they came back for the chance to make history — and that’s exactly what they did. They were known as the Oh-Fours.”

Noah’s name was also mentioned on two other SI lists, as a reserve forward for SI’s All-Decade Team and at No. 1 in the “10 signature college basketball moments of the decade.” Of Noah’s entry on the All-Decade Team, Grant Wahl writes, “The most memorable team acts of the decade were Illinois in 2004-05 and Florida in 2005-07, and their all-time chemistry explains why so few of their individuals are making this All-Decade list. But if you’re going to pick one guy from these teams, you have to pick Noah, who could do so many things on the court and took over the 2006 NCAA final.”

As for the second distinction, SI recounts Noah’s now-famous dancing celebration after winning the 2006 SEC Championship. “Noah’s spastic, post-SEC tournament celebration on Selection Sunday did not go down in the annals of dance, but it did capture the essence of the star of Florida’s dynasty. Noah, the son of a French tennis and pop star, was brash and widely reviled by opposing fans — yet he was an unselfish player who admirably passed on the NBA draft as a sophomore, and backed up his antics by winning back-to-back national titles. After a shocked Verne Lundquist ceded the CBS stage by saying, ‘Ladies and gentlemen, Joakim Noah,’ Bill Raftery asked Noah a question about seeding. The Gators, who’d slipped a bit down the stretch in ’06-07, were likely to enter their title defense as a No. 2 seed. Noah’s response? ‘Who cares! At the end of the day, it’s yours against mine — we’ll see who gets it!’ For two straight NCAA tournaments, the Gators got it.” They sure did.

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