Maurkice Pouncey to enter draft; brother Mike stays at UF

Florida junior offensive lineman Maurkice Pouncey will apply for entry into the 2010 NFL Draft, according to a school press release, but his twin brother, Mike, plans to return for his senior season.

"This is one of the biggest decisions I have ever made in my life," Maurkice Pouncey said. "I am glad that my brother and I made the decision to be (with the) 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'm very excited to come back and wear the Orange and Blue for the 2010 season," said Mike Pouncey, also a junior offensive lineman. "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."

Maurkice Pouncey made 40 career starts over his three seasons at Florida and was the winner of the 2009 Rimington Trophy, presented to the best center in the nation. He is the first Gator to win the award. Maurkice also garnered recognition as a first-team All-American by Walter Camp, the FWAA, Sporting News and CBSSports.com.

Both Maurkice and Mike received second-team All-America and first-team All-Southeastern Conference recognition from the Associated Press.

"These are two guys who we've been able to build our program around for the last several years," Florida coach Urban Meyer said. "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."

The Pounceys helped power Florida's offense, which ranked No. 1 in the SEC in 2009 with 457.9 yards per game, including 221.8 rushing yards per game, 10th-highest in the nation.

"Maurkice has all the tools to succeed in the NFL," Addazio said. "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," Addazio added. "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."

Said Maurkice: "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."

The Pouncey twins started every game in the 2009 season for Florida, each earning SEC Lineman of the Week honors once this season. Both also were starters in the BCS national championship game following the 2008 season, in which Florida claimed the title with a 24-14 victory over Oklahoma.

The NFL Draft will be held April 22-24 at Radio City Music Hall in New York.

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