I am not sure if many of you are like me, but I do not follow college football as much as I do the NFL. I attend Maryland Terps Football games, so the extent of my knowledge extends to that team and a little bit out into the ACC, which is not exactly the NCAA football power house. Therefore, outside of what I read here on BTSC, I have very minimal knowledge on the draft prospects that are being talked about. Generally, I read the opinions of others here, on ESPN, football podcasts, and YouTube videos to garner an opinion. That is probably an awful way to form an opinion, but it's the best I've got.
Cause-and-effect, my knowledge of Maurkice Pouncey is just that he was good center in college for the Florida Gators. Yeah, that is pretty poor, so I decided to read up a bit on the guy. Since, Blitz only put up a quick few paragraphs about his potential impact on the team, I wanted to look more into what LaShawn Maurkice Pouncey offers us and who he actually is.High School
Pouncey was born in Lakeland, Florida and attended Lakeland High School, a member of the '06 graduating class. By the time Pouncey graduated, they had won 3 straight 5A state championships and 2 USA Today determined national championships, where they won 45 straight games. Twice he was honored by being named to the All-State team. During his senior year he was ranked as the 15th overall guard in highs school by both Scout.com and Rivals.com. Oh yeah, and he got a scholarship to play for the Florida Gators. I cannot imagine how much he must have dominated in high school. I think OGs at my school were 6' 200lbs at best.
As a freshman Gator, Pouncey started 11 of 13 games at Right Guard in 2007. Additionally, he took a few snaps at center. In those 11 games he was graded no lower than an 83% blocking consistency(BC). He was named to the Freshman All-American team and the Freshman All-Southeastern Conference squad.
In 2008, as a Sophmore, Pouncey transitioned into a Center for Florida. He started all 14 games, grading a 90% or higher BC in 6 of those games. He was named the SEC's Offensive Lineman of the Week after the Arkansas game (94% BC) and was named one of the top five UF Offensive Players of the Week after the LSU game (97% BC). Additionally, he had 115 knockdowns/key blocks, which was the best on the team. Moreover, he had 16 TD resulting blocks and allowed only 1 sack in 329 pass plays. At the end of the year, he was named to the All SEC first team.
Last year, again Pouncey started 14 games as the Gators center. It is important to note that he missed the majority of the off season due a shoulder (labrum) injury and the surgery he had to fix it. Even after missing the off season work outs, he led the nation with a 91.57% BC and produced 4 more knockdown/key blocks than the previous year, 20 of those resulting in touchdowns. Most impressively, Pouncey did not allow a single QB sack or pressure, nor was he penalized on any of the Gator's 919 offensive snaps. That is music to any Steelers fans ears, with the absurd amount of sacks we seem to allow every year. He was named the SEC Offensive Lineman of the Week twice and named to the All-American first team. Lastly, he received the honor of being the first Gator ever rewarded with the Rimington Trophy, an award given to the best college center every year.
Strengths: Pouncey is a big guy, but has great agility and quickness for his size and position. He has natural size that is built for interior OL. He has good strength and leverage in his blocks. Position flexibility. Very durable, despite the shoulder. He is smart, with good instincts, and shows good awareness in blocking and blitz pick-ups. He faced some of the best DTs in college and held his own. He is a hard worker in practice, good character, positive attitude, and a leader.
Weaknesses: His blocking technique is not always consistently as he goes too high sometimes. Also, he sometimes reaches for blocks which can cause him to lose them. His footwork is not perfect. Florida did not run pro-level blocking schemes.
I was one of the biggest naysayers of the selection last night. Part of that may have been the awful Corona I had to drink talking, but anyhow I am excited after reading about him. He seems like a solid addition to our OL that can be a leader. His few downsides are something that can be fixed with good coaching (unlike if he had small size/slow speed). I believe that Pouncey will be starting by the end of the year and that the power running game is on its way back to Pittsburgh. Welcome to the Black and Gold Maurkice. Do us proud!