Chris Rainey Drafted No. 159 Overall By Pittsburgh Steelers

With the 24th pick in the fifth round of the 2012 NFL Draft (No. 159 overall) Florida Gators running back Chris Rainey was selected by the Pittsburgh Steelers. In Pittsburgh, Rainey will join former his former Florida teammates Maurkice Pouncey and Marcus Gilbert.

Rainey was expected by many to be drafted, but there was a range on exactly where he would fall. Some said the former star could go as high as the second round, while others saw him sneaking into the draft late. In the fifth round, the Steelers – who have had some success with former Gators – took a chance on the speedster.

The remainder of the draft went as expected with Rainey and defensive lineman Jaye Howard not being joined by any additional former Gators. The 2012 draft would mark the first since 1993 that the first three rounds didn’t feature a Florida athlete. We wish both Rainey and Howard the best of luck, but hope 2013 is more kind to the Gators.

Maurkice Pouncey Named Pro Bowl Starter; Tim Tebow, Cam Newton Selected As Alternates

When our favorite Florida Gators go off to the NFL, we dream of glorious professional careers for them. Careers filled with many moments of success, maybe a Super Bowl and an induction into the Hall of Fame when all is said and done. Along the way, we want to see them become Pro Bowlers and be selected as All-Pros. We hope their success as Gators translates easily to Sundays. More often than not, it doesn’t. Take one look at my Twitter profile picture and you’ll see perhaps my biggest hope. We’re not alone, it happens to every fan base. The next level doesn’t always go as planned. But for a select few it does.

Among those few is Pittsburgh Steelers’ center Maurkice Pouncey. Pouncey is about to close out his second season in the NFL and for the second straight year, he will end it with a Pro Bowl nod. Only 22 years of age, the slightly older of the Pouncey twins has already made a name for himself among the league’s elite offensive linemen. He has started 29 of 31 possible regular season games and during a year in which the Steelers’ line has struggled, he’s been the rock.

The Pro Bowl selection for Pouncey is well deserved as will be the many more to come. The former Florida All-American has made the transition seem easy even though it’s anything but. Although for a player with his ability and intensity, maybe it is. This won’t be the last time we hear Pouncey’s name associated with an all-star selection of sorts this season. After his rookie season, he was also named an All-Pro. There could very well be another of those on the way as well.

While Pouncey was the only former Florida player to be named, there were two former Gators selected as alternates – one a star in orange and blue and one that ultimately found glory elsewhere. Tim Tebow was named the second alternate at quarterback for the AFC; while Cam Newton was selected as the NFC’s first alternate. The original six QBs selected each year rarely all make appearances at the annual event, so there’s a chance Tebow or Newton could be pulled into Pro Bowl duty.

The Phinsider Scouting Report: Mike Pouncey, C/G, Florida Gators

It is not just recruit reports. I have also added NFL scouting reports to my repertoire (definitely did not spell that right on the first attempt).

The kind folks over at The Phinsider – SB Nation’s Miami Dolphins blog – asked me to provide them with some notes about former Florida offensive lineman Mike Pouncey and, of course, I was happy to oblige.
Pouncey did not have the ideal season in 2010 and we can bet that was not the finish to his Gators career that he was looking for. He switched positions, struggled, and could not be switched back. While some of us screamed for him to be moved from center to guard, that just was not possible with the lack of depth of the position. So Pouncey went through the entire season, playing a position where he struggled to excel.
It did not seem to hurt his NFL Draft chances too much as Pouncey became a first-round selection and actually went higher than his twin – Maurkice Pouncey – did one year earlier. To see what I think Pouncey brings to the Dolphins and where he can still improve, visit The Phinsider.

Marcus Gilbert Goes #63 Overall to the Pittsburgh Steelers

I’ve never been much of a Pittsburgh Steelers’ fan.  I’ve never felt much of anything toward the Steelers to be honest.  They fit firmly in that “meh” category reserved for most of the teams in the NFL.  But I am becoming an increasing fan of their offensive line.  First Max Starks.  Then Maurkice Pouncey.  And now Marcus Gilbert.

Gilbert went a round higher than most projected as Pittsburgh selected him in the second round.  Going #63 overall is good for Gilbert who was projected to go somewhere in the third.
This is a good place for Gilbert to end up because he probably won’t be asked to play right away.  He’ll have some time to shed the “soft” label and develop himself into a viable option at the right tackle spot.  Most teams didn’t see Gilbert as a franchise left tackle, but could picture him as a serviceable talent on the right side.
After three rounds, Florida has now sent two players to the big time.  Still plenty of Gators out there waiting to hear their names called.

(Photo: University of Florida)

Mike Pouncey Goes #15 Overall to the Miami Dolphins

Florida fans didn’t have to wait long for the first Gator to be selected in the 2011 NFL Draft.  Offensive…er…something Mike Pouncey went #15 overall to the Miami Dolphins, which is exactly where many expected him to end up.

Despite a rocky final season at Florida in which his troubles snapping the ball where discussed the entire year, Pouncey’s tenacity and overall ability still made him a first-round draft pick.  He actually went higher than his brother, Maurkice Pouncey, did one year earlier.  The Pounceys won’t be lining up together again anytime soon (if ever), but both should be NFL mainstays for years to come.
Now the question immediately arises of what position does Pouncey play?  Center?  Well, there are those glaring snapping issues when lined up in shotgun formations.  Confidence and plenty of practice should fix that.  It doesn’t hurt that he is good at pretty much everything else.
Whether the Dolphins want to make him a center or not is up to them, but he might be better suited at guard.  Pouncey excelled at the position before taking over for his departed brother at center.  He is an offensive lineman with a mean streak and someone you definitely want on your side.  Although some may call this a reach, the Dolphins got a player with the potential to be something special (what he twin did in his rookie season doesn’t hurt).  At center, they have a project.  At guard, they have an immediate contributor.

Javares McRoy to Leave Florida for Texas Tech is reporting that freshman wide receiver Javares McRoy will transfer from Florida and has been granted his release.  McRoy is reported to be headed to Texas Tech where he will join his brother on the Red Raiders’ roster.

McRoy came in as part of the 2011 recruiting class.  Out of Lakeland (Lakeland, FL), he was rated as the nation’s #28 wide receiver and the #39 player from the state of Florida according to Rivals.  McRoy is a smaller receiver at 5’9”, 170 lbs., but was expected to be able to contribute at the position once given a time to develop and become accustomed to the college game.
Florida has had every possible kind of luck with players from Lakeland over the past few years – good, bad, and indifferent.  Ahmad Black and Maurkice Pouncey were stars.  Mike Pouncey was well on his way to becoming one until a position change prompted questions.  Chris Rainey has played well when healthy and eligible.  Unfortunately, Steve Wilks and Paul Wilson weren’t able to finish their careers.  And John Brown, well, didn’t pan out.  There’s also T.J. Lawrence – although he went to Kathleen and not Lakeland – who transferred from the program.
McRoy joins Adrian Coxson and Jordan Haden (both from the 2010 recruiting class) as players who voluntarily left the program before making it to their first fall semester.

Maurkice Pouncey Plans to Play; How? We Don’t Know

There are many things athletes are better at than us.  Athletics, for one.  Generally in strength and overall health as well.  Making money for the most part.  Spending money comes to mind.  Healing is another.  A hangnail can put one of us of commission for months at a time.  “You expect me to put together my TPS reports with this?!?  I demand to talk to HR!”  Basically put, we are all wimps.  Wimps who live vicariously through those reaping the rewards of collegiate and professional athletic competition.

Former Florida All-American center and one part of the baddest twins this side of the mighty Mississippi Maurkice Pouncey is one of those reaping the rewards.  As a Gator, Pouncey saw his career end with back-to-back 13-1 seasons and he was a key part of a National Championship team.  As a first-year player with the Pittsburgh Steelers, he went from rookie to starter to Pro Bowler to AFC Champion.  Pretty impressive for most, but expected of the mauler.  And then Sunday happened.
During the Steelers AFC Championship victory over the New York Jets, Pouncey felt the full weight of a fellow footballer on his ankle.  So much weight he actually heard a pop.  The injury looked bad when it happened and worse when Pouncey was shown not able to put any weight on the ankle.  Then again that is 304 pounds of tatted up badass weight.  Not an easy feat even on a healthy ankle.  The moment it happened it appeared as if Pouncey’s season was over.  The Steelers were marching toward the Super Bowl and their starting center would be watching from the sidelines.  And then Monday happened.
“I know in my heart I’m playing in that game.”  And so it was said.  Pouncey had a similar injury while at Florida and claims he knows how to deal with it.  Let’s hope so.  To us it looked nasty.  To him it was no more than an annoyance he plans to get past quick.  The next few days will tell us if Pouncey can really go come Super Bowl time, but as of right now, don’t count him out.

Morning Reading: Maurkice Pouncey Denies Allegations

Former Florida All-American offensive lineman and current Pittsburgh Steelers rookie Maurkice Pouncey has denied allegations that he took money from an agent while still a member of the Gators’ football team.
Allegations came to light recently accusing Pouncey of taking $100,000 from an agent before Florida’s Sugar Bowl victory over Cincinnati.  Obviously, if this were true, it would be a violation since Pouncey was still a college athlete at the time.  However, on Wednesday, Pouncey issued a statement that any claim to that effect is ridiculous and he never accepted anything from an agent.
Both Florida and the NCAA are investigating the allegations and Pouncey has cooperated with them.  He has even turned over numerous statements to prove there was never a large amount of money accepted.  Pouncey did purchase a Cadillac Escalade after the NFL draft and was able to do so with a deferred loan.
We’re in the middle of several sticky situations involving agents.  USC has already been sanctioned.  Florida is investigating the Pouncey situation.  Players from UNC and South Carolina are being interviewed.  And now the NCAA has an inquiry in at Georgia.
As several college head coaches has said recently, it’s time for the NFL to step up and help police the agents.  If an agent partakes in any activity with a client before he is allowed to, that agent should not be allowed to represent that client.  Or any client for that matter.  While these kids need to take some responsibility and work harder to do the right thing, the agents are presenting them with offers they never imagined.  Temptations push the athletes over the edge at times.  That’s no excuse, but the agents are the ones that end up with no punishment when all is said and done.  The NFL needs to change that.
From the time they left Florida for the NBA, we knew good things were ahead for Al Horford, Corey Brewer, and Joakim Noah.  Horford and Noah haven’t disappointed and despite being stuck in Minnesota, Brewer is an improving young player.  Before those three came along, there was another former Gator who we weren’t so sure about.  David Lee.
Lee has a solid career at Florida and seemed like he could become a decent role player in the NBA.  Five years later, Lee is coming off a season in which he averaged 20.2 points per game (the fifth straight season he has increased his scoring average).  He also finished with an average of over 11 rebounds a game for the second straight season.
Lee turned his rising success into a six-year, $80 million contract with the Golden State Warriors where he will be counted on to be one of the team’s stars.  He was also invited to participate in team USA workouts for the world championships and had a good chance at making the final roster.
That chance is over now as Lee injured his finger during the first day of practice and will be shelved for six weeks.  No world championships for Lee, but he should be 100% by the time the new NBA season rolls around.
Missed among the Ilya Kovalchuk news of the last few days was a big trade between the Philadelphia Flyers and the Tampa Bay Lightning.  The Lightning improved their offensive production by adding Flyers left wing Simon Gagne.
Gagne – who has scored more than 40 goals twice in his career and more than 20 seven times – should add immediate punch to the Lightning offense.  The two-time NHL all-star will provide another scoring option for Tampa Bay and brings plenty of experience to the ice.
To obtain Gagne, the Lightning gave up defenseman Matt Walker and a 2011 fourth-round draft pick.  Sounds like a great deal for Tampa Bay and one that could produce immediate dividends.

The Long Snapper (7/19/10)

College football.  James Smith.  Pageant contestants.
Florida is investigating allegations that former All-American offensive lineman Maurkice Pouncey received $100,000 from an agent before the Sugar Bowl.  As a Gator fan, I’m keeping every finger I have crossed that this isn’t true, but if it is, it may be more on Pouncey than the school.  According to the report, Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley informed the NCAA and SEC immediately upon hearing of the allegations.  Both the school and the NCAA are currently investigating the situation.  At this point, Foley doesn’t believe Florida wasn’t in compliance of anything because the school didn’t know this may or may not have occurred.  Hopefully because it was reported immediately upon knowledge, the Gators won’t be in any hot water.  However, it still casts a dark shadow on the program and on Pouncey if it turns out to be true.  As with most, I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt for the time being until we know more.  Starting to really wish the season would hurry up and get here and stories like this would cease.
But here’s another one…the NCAA’s investigation into UNC has gone across state and conference lines.  South Carolina tight end Weslye Saunders is the latest to be interviewed by the NCAA in connection with the investigation.  Saunders is a close friend of Tar Heel defensive tackle Marvin Austin and the two may have spent time together in Florida earlier this year.  Exactly how that trip was paid for could be one of the concerns of the NCAA.  I’m sure the Gamecock coaching staff and athletic department were absolutely thrilled to find out one of their student-athletes is now involved in the investigation.  Saunders is expected to be a big part of the South Carolina offense after totaling 32 receptions for 353 yards and three touchdowns in 2009.
A college student drinking underage?  Not possible!  Actually so incredibly beyond possible that it’s most likely happening right now at numerous schools across the nation.  A notable name is now among those that have actually been arrested for the offense – Notre Dame’s Nate Montana.  Montana was among 44 people arrested at a party on Friday night.  The Fighting Irish backup quarterback was charged with underage drinking.  Not to be outdone, the Notre Dame basketball team also had a known individual arrested – second-leading returning scorer Tim Abromaitis.  Nine other Irish athletes were charged as well.  It might be a little harder now for Montana to hold on to the primary backup spot giving that he has a record and all.  Of course that all depends on how clean new head coach Brian Kelly wants the program to be.
A few big names joined the College Football Hall of Fame this year.  24 in all were enshrined on Saturday.  Among them was former Notre Dame star and Heisman Trophy winner Tim Brown (second Brown mention in one day, surprising considering most had probably forgotten about him entirely).  Fellow Heisman Trophy winner and former Miami quarterback Gino Torretta was also honored.  A personal favorite and one of those who supplied me with my early college football memories was also inducted – West Virginia’s Major Harris.

The Long Snapper (5/26/10)

Get used to me mentioning Nelson Agholor.  Especially because he’s only going to be a high school junior this fall.  That means lots of time left in his recruitment.  And boy has it started.  The athlete from Berkeley Prep (Tampa, FL) received a big offer to kick off the excitement that will be the next few years.  Agholor – who could end up at running back, wide receiver, or safety at the next level – received an offer from USC and…wait for it…is getting serious looks from Florida.  He may be from a small school that doesn’t tend to get a lot of national attention, but Agholor is one to keep an eye on.  In September when schools can officially offer (the Trojans’ is basically a good faith offer), expect them to start rolling in.  Along with USC and Florida, Rutgers and USF have early interest.
What’s in store for USF this season?  A transition period as Skip Holtz implements his schemes?  A step back?  A leap forward?  It’s hard to tell based on the fact that year after year no one really knows what to think of the Bulls.  Quick starts.  Awful finishes.  Climbing the polls early.  Finishing in the middle of what could be considering the worst of the big six conferences.  USF has some star power (B.J. Daniels), but has also lost some (Mike Ford).  Odds are the Bulls will win a game they’re not supposed to, but also lose one (or two) they probably shouldn’t have.  Although the Big East is not considered the cream of the crop for the most part, they are competitive within their conference confines.  If I had to venture an early guess, I’d say we’re looking at something within the eight-win range again.
While everyone keeps their eyes on the Big Ten, the Big East is looking into expansion possibilities as well.  Not wanting to be caught with his pants down, Big East commissioner John Marinatto has looked into options for his conference.  Although the Big East won’t be able to attract the level of programs the Big Ten can, they can strengthen their base before they’re raided.  With rumors of as many as three Big East teams being Big Ten targets, the conference may need to act before the “power” conferences do.  Already a small conference by numbers, the Big East needs to build its size in preparation for what is most likely going to occur sometime in the not too distant future.
Former Florida guard/new Florida center Mike Pouncey has been named to the Rimington Trophy watch list.  You may recall his twin brother – Maurkice Pouncey – taking home the award last year.  Pouncey should make the transition to center look easy and be the anchor and leader of the offensive line.  I don’t know for sure, but I’d be willing to be bet twins have never each won the award.  Too bad the McCollums never became Thorpe candidates.
The List: The list is but one today.  One that relates to the G in TBG and one that relates to the first item above.
1. Jim Barrie
The Sixth Man: Goodbye Nimrod Tishman.  We hardly knew you.  No breaking news here, but it’s official: Tishman will not return to the Gators.  The point guard will instead return to Israel where his talents are a better fit for the style of play.  Tishman appeared briefly in seven games for Florida last season, but was unable to contribute much due to the speed of the game.  Tishman’s expected departure could have weighed heavily on Scottie Wilbekin’s decision to come in a year early.  Wilbekin will be a development project during his first year with the Gators, but may be needed for depth as well.