GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- There was one thing that stood out at Florida's pro day Tuesday: "Team Pouncey" T-shirts were everywhere.
They were on the field and in the stands. They were on former and current players. They were on friends and family members.
|Mike Pouncey replaced his brother, Maurkice, as starting center for Florida during the 2010 season. (Florida Athletics/Special to NFL.com)|
Despite the extra attention, Mike Pouncey didn't need help separating himself from the pack. Pouncey was the main attraction at Florida's pro day.
The 6-foot-4, 310-pound guard/center had scouts, general managers and coaches watching his every move. They broke down his stance, put him through blocking drills, scrutinized his snaps, talked about his personal life and tested his football IQ.
"I did a great job. They loved me," Pouncey said.
With good reason, too.
Pouncey's twin brother, Maurkice, started 16 games at center for the Pittsburgh Steelers last season and made the Pro Bowl as a rookie. Mike has the same DNA, something NFL personnel executives noted.
"You definitely take that into consideration because obviously they're very similar," Jacksonville Jaguars general manager Gene Smith said. "Both guys could play center or guard, and versatility equals value. He did a nice job out here today."
Pouncey spent most of his college career at guard, but returned for his senior year and replaced his brother at center. He struggled some early, but settled down with more experience and emerged as Florida's best blocker and one of the team leaders.
"You've got to love his confidence and his personality," Jaguars offensive line coach Andy Heck said. "He's got a magnetic personality. It's clear that he's got some leadership about him. I think that shines through."
Safeties Ahmad Black and Will Hill, linebackers Brandon Hicks and A.J. Jones, receiver Carl Moore, running back Emmanuel Moody, punter Chas Henry, offensive linemen Maurice Hurt, Marcus Gilbert and Carl Johnson, and defensive linemen Brandon Antwine, Duke Lemmens, Lawrence Marsh, Terron Sanders and Justin Trattou, and a few others also worked out in the Swamp.
Three former Florida players -- quarterback Chris Leak, tight end Tate Casey and linebacker Dustin Doe -- showed up to work out. But because they are considered NFL free agents in the middle of a lockout, they weren't allowed on the field or able to talk to any team representatives.
Pouncey, meanwhile, held everyone's interest.
Since he worked out at the NFL combine in Indianapolis last month, there was little Pouncey had to prove. Still, he bench-pressed 225 pounds 24 times, two fewer than his brother, and did every drill scouts requested. He met individually with the New York Giants, the Jaguars, the Patriots and the Chicago Bears. He also begins individual workouts Wednesday, with the first stop being Detroit.
Pouncey would love Pittsburgh to draft him so he would be reunited with his best friend, but the Steelers pick 31st and Pouncey doesn't expect to still be on the board then.
Nonetheless, the Steelers like the thought of pairing up the brothers and seeing what develops.
"I don't know if it'll happen, but I can (imagine that scenario)," Pittsburgh offensive line coach Sean Kugler said. "They're tough to tell apart. They're very similar in a lot of ways, great kids, great family. I certainly enjoy coaching Maurkice and wherever his brother ends up, he'll do a great job as well."
Mike Pouncey anticipates getting drafted in the middle of the first round, pointing to warm meetings and strong feedback from the Miami Dolphins (15th pick), the Jaguars (16th), the Giants (19th) and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (20th).
The Bucs would be a welcome spot since it's a half-hour drive from his home in Lakeland.
"That's hometown," Pouncey said. "I would love to go there."
Pouncey didn't bring up his brother's success Tuesday. He didn't feel he needed to. Those T-shirts -- his mother handed out 30 of them -- said it all.
"I don't sell it," Pouncey said. "They watch the tape, they see we play just alike. Obviously, he's doing so good at center at the next level that they'll probably throw me in at center and let me excel at that position. But if not, I'll play guard. I'll play any position they want me to."
Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press