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.”