GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- They really do finish each other's sentences, the most famous twins in Titletown.
|Maurkice Pouncey is one of eight early admission freshmen at UF. (Provided to SportsLine)|
"Yeah, it's big," says brother Michael.
"In the SEC everything is faster," Maurkice says.
"Faster," adds Michael.
"I'd tell (recruits) to do it, it's fun," Maurkice giving his endorsement to the early enrollment the Pouncey twins took advantage of in January.
"You finally get away from home," Michael says.
Like two big 300-pound kids, which they are more often than not, Maurkice and Michael lumber into an interview backpacks in tow. It's possible the interviewer knows more than they do about Florida right now.
But that's kind of the point. The Pouncey Twins are two of what are believed to be a record eight early entries at Florida this year. There have been 12 in two years here.
Something is working. Urban Meyer's first recruiting class in 2006 finished second nationally. In February, he grabbed a mythical national championship (No. 1 in recruiting) that followed a month after the real one.
Perhaps only USC is getting the more out of their freshmen early. Call it on-the-job training with the rash of high school seniors this decade skipping their final semester to enroll early in college.
|June 18:||Recruiting loophole?|
|June 21:||Enrolling early at USC|
|June 26:||Florida's Pouncey twins|
|Today:||Tim Tebow's views|
This year's Florida class was highlighted by four players from powerful Lakeland (Fla.) High School. Two of the four have been the buzz of the campus. If that's even possible with Tim Tebow roaming the grounds, three national championships in a year and a new/old basketball coach.
"I can't tell them apart," coach Urban Meyer said. "I say 'Twin.' I call them 'Pounceys.' There isn't a person on this campus they haven't had an impact on, including my wife and secretaries."
They're cute and cuddly, kind of charismatic. Maurkice is the talkative one; Michael, the one who adds thoughtful context.
Don't ask about height and weight. They're the same there too. Each is 6-foot-5, 305 pounds at any given time. Two teenagers with baby faces who are a heartbeat away from starting as freshmen offensive linemen.
And a giggle way from the mischief. Date the same girl? The Pounceys did it but not as separate people.
That's how hard it is to tell them apart.
"No, we didn't tell her," Maurkice said snickering.
Freshmen come early to play. They usually don't come early to play offensive line. The line is considered too demanding for an 18-year-old. Skill players seem to have the most early success after early enrollment. Twenty four of the 69 early entries among BCS schools this year are quarterbacks, running backs, receivers, kickers or punters.
Maurkice (left guard) and Michael (right guard) are both listed as backups. They'll have to play, it seems, as Meyer tries to slog through depth and off-field issues. Guard Ronnie Wilson has been suspended indefinitely. Two felony charges were reduced to misdemeanors for battery and discharging a firearm.
|Ready to play, Michael Pouncey? The national champs probably need you now. (Provided to SportsLine)|
Virginia and Vanderbilt are two of the notables that won't take early entries but who knows how long that will last.
"It's definitely a recruiting advantage with a certain type of student," said Ted White, Georgia's director of academic services. "These are high achiever students who are looking for any advantage. Everyone is fighting over that type of student-athlete. They want to get a jump and get on with their careers."
There's nothing wrong with that, Meyer said. If early entries follow a typical graduation track, they will get their degree in December. That leaves them ready to pursue the NFL instead of the continuing habit of players dropping out of school in their last (spring) semester.
"Especially at places like Florida, you get the elite," Meyer said. "Everybody has goals. It's not beyond the realm to say they want to play in the NFL. We've got some of these kids who are three years and out."
"I don't want to think about that yet," Maurkice said. "Our mom wants us to get our degree."
The twins forced the issue asking a guidance counselor if it was possible. Then it took some convincing of their mother, a Head Start teacher in Lakeland.
They welcomed the thick playbook, the workouts, the regimentation. There was a kind of serendipity as the Pounceys arrived on campus the same day Florida won the national championship.
"We all watched it in our room," Maurkice said. "Then we went outside. All you saw was a mob of people running down the street."
Suddenly, the Pouncey Twins are completing each other's sentences again. They are explaining why they changed their commitments from Florida State to Florida.
Michael: "Coach Meyer, he talked to you like a daddy. He ain't going to bull---- you."
Maurkice: "We went to the Florida State camp. We like to be attacked. When you get attacked by coaches, you get better."
Michael: "We talked with Bobby Bowden for, what, 30 seconds?"
Maurkice: "It got out real fast that we were going to Florida. We were on our way and Florida State called us. We just had a change of heart. (An assistant coach) was mad, yelling."
If they can handle SEC defensive linemen -- never a certainty -- the twins are destined for greatness. They're already handling the adults who coach them.
Headed out the door, they are stifling smiles. Must be date night.