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fordfixer
09-25-2010, 01:48 AM
A Rare Find
Pouncey Is Exceeding Expectations in Pittsburgh

By Rick Brown
THE LEDGER
TAMPA
http://www.theledger.com/article/201009 ... ?p=3&tc=pg (http://www.theledger.com/article/20100924/NEWS/9245096/1254?p=3&tc=pg)


There are a few occasions when Maurkice Pouncey shows his age.

Sometimes his mind wonders when he's in the Pittsburgh Steelers' huddle and sees veteran receiver Hines Ward. Or when the center is about to snap the ball and the quarterback receiving it is Charlie Batch, Pouncey just shakes his head.

"When I first saw Charlie, I was like, 'Hey, that's Charlie Batch,'" Pouncey said. "I used to watch him as a young kid."

But those occasions when the rookie from Lakeland High School finds himself awestruck are few.

In fact, Pouncey has played with the poise of a veteran. That's why it will be his job to protect Batch on Sunday when the Steelers travel to Tampa to take on the Bucs.

He's expecting a small contingent of about 12 family and friends to be at the game.

"That's going to be crazy," said the 21-year-old Pouncey, who grew up a Buccaneer fan. "Every time I think about it, it's a great feeling. I'm going to be back home in Florida. It's going to be nice to get back to hot weather, real hot weather."

Pouncey, who was selected with the 18th overal pick in the 2010 NFL Draft, is the first center ever picked by the Steelers in the first round. He's also the Steelers' first rookie starting center since the 1960s.

The Steelers had every intention of bringing Pouncey along slowly, wanting him to work at both guard and center and get spot duty his rookie season.

But Pouncey had other plans. He engulfed himself in the playbook, studying day and night, whenever he could. Then he had a brilliant training camp that forced the Steelers to put him on the field.

"The reason he's in there is, quite frankly, he's not playing like a rookie," Pittsburgh coach Mike Tomlin said. "He's really exceeded our expectations in terms of his development within the system - the responsibilities of playing center in terms of identifying fronts and so forth. He's really mature beyond his years in that way and that's why he's been given the opportunity.

"Now once given the opportunity, of course, he's proven he's a quality player, a unique talent." Tomlin said. "He's going to be a really good player. Of course he's not a finished product as we sit here today, but we're very excited and enthused about where he is."

Tampa Bay center Jeff Faine followed a similar path as Pouncey. He was a first-round pick out of Notre Dame and started his rookie year.

"Beyond the quarterback, it's the hardest position to start at as a rookie in the NFL," said Faine, who is entering his eighth year in the league. "It's competitively challenging. You're dealing not only with the physical aspect of it, but also the mental aspect of it at the same time."

Even Pouncey cannot believe how his journey to the NFL has gone.

When he left Lakeland to go to Florida, Pouncey was one of the nation's top prospects at offensive guard.

He was just the seventh true freshman to start a season opener for the Gators.

During his freshman season with the Gators, he started 11 games at right guard and graded no lower than 83 percent for blocking consistency in any of his starting assignments. For that, he was named Freshman All-American by College Football News and Rivals.com.

But at the beginning of his sophomore year, the Gators asked him to move to center.

"I was hesitant about it," he admitted. "I was coming off a good freshman season. But I did it, and it was the best move I did in my life."

He played and started the next 28 games for Florida. By the end of his junior year, Pouncey was an All-American and became the first Gator to win the Rimington Trophy, given to the nation's best center.

He declared for the NFL Draft following his junior season. Now, he'll enter Raymond James Stadium leading the Pittsburgh offense on Sunday.

"Playing for Florida was great," Pouncey said. "But now, you're at the level you wanted to be at your whole life. It's crazy. When you come through that tunnel and see all fans, screaming your name and waving those terrible towels, it gives you confidence at what you do. This is great."

SanAntonioSteelerFan
09-25-2010, 08:55 AM
Fantastic job drafting!

I wonder if his brother would be a good pickup (or even available at #32...)?

:tt2 :tt1

JAR
09-25-2010, 09:12 AM
I'm so glad we don't have to put up with "Pouncey is a bust" threads.... :)

Mister Pittsburgh
09-25-2010, 10:24 AM
Nice to have a center that you don't have to worry about getting rolled up a half dozen times on Sundays. Also refreshing to have a first round pick start year one and excel.

steelblood
09-25-2010, 10:33 AM
Nice to have a center that you don't have to worry about getting rolled up a half dozen times on Sundays. Also refreshing to have a first round pick start year one and excel.

He's been good. Now, I don't want to see any more fumbled snaps.

stlrz d
09-25-2010, 11:03 AM
Nice to have a center that you don't have to worry about getting rolled up a half dozen times on Sundays. Also refreshing to have a first round pick start year one and excel.

We don't often have a need for that.

papillon
09-25-2010, 11:08 AM
I'm so glad we don't have to put up with "Pouncey is a bust" threads.... :)

But, Timmons isn't living up to his draft status... :stirpot :stirpot

:P

Pappy

SteelAbility
09-25-2010, 11:16 AM
I'm so glad we don't have to put up with "Pouncey is a bust" threads.... :)

We could start the "Pouncey HAS a bust" threads. :wink: