Florida played in the SEC Championship last Saturday and suffered a loss to the Alabama Crimson Tide. It was hard end to a good season, Jim McElwain’s first as the head coach at Florida. But McElwain had a mission the following day, win or lose, he wanted his kicker. And so, the day after the end of the season, the first stop for the Florida Gator head coach was in Miami to see place kicker Eddy Pineiro. The guy he and his staff pegged as the top of their recruiting board at the position.
Pineiro oddly enough was committed to Alabama at the time. He had been for several months, but McElwain knew there was a lot of interest. What he was prepared to show the kid with the cannon leg is just how much he meant to this program.
Color Pinero impressed and excited now to be playing for McElwain and the Gators.
“I wanted to be closer to home and for Coach Mac to come to my home after losing the day before in the SEC Championship, it meant a lot to my family,” Pineiro said about why he picked Florida. “I just felt like that was the place for me and I wanted to help them win.
“When Coach Mac came to my house, he basically told me they really needed a kicker. I knew the situation, I am pretty sure everybody in the country knows the kicking situation there. He pretty much told me for him to be at a kicker’s house the day after losing the SEC Championship tells me how important I was.”
It isn’t every year a team like Florida signs a kicker and not many are under the same circumstances as Pineiro falls under this year. He’s in his second year out of high school, but he went part time to college in his first year, therefore his clock didn’t start on his college eligibility until this calendar year. He didn’t play football this year but played soccer and his only live action on the football field came in the second half of his senior year of high school when he decided to help the team out that needed a kicker.
Many have asked about how he can really be judged because he hasn’t really had much live football action. Pineiro scoffs at the notion and in my opinion has great argument.
“People always talk about how I only kicked in half of a season of high school,” he said. “They wonder how I am going to deal with the pressure. I just tell them when you have Coach Nick Saban standing there watching you with the best 300 kickers in the country, that is some big pressure. At Florida when McElwain watched every step I made in camp… that is pressure. For me to go to different camps and beat out all of these kickers, and for me to not have the playing experience like they have and beat them, I think it means a lot. I am not the best kicker in the country for no reason.-yard field goals.
Pineiro has been very popular on social media sites with his booming leg and YouTube videos kicking 77-yard field goals. But he prides himself with his accuracy as well.
“In my opinion, the closer I am the more accurate I am,” he said. “I will go to practice and maybe miss 1-2 kicks out of 25 tries, so I consider myself very accurate.”
His goal at Florida has to deal with changing the entire outlook of the placekicking part of special teams.
“I just want to change the kicking game,” he said. “I want to kick 60-65 yard field goals. I want the coach and everyone to feel confident in me that whenever the field goal unit comes out It will be a sure three points. I want to break records at Florida.”
Aside from his goals, he is looking for those special moments for kickers.
“I want to win and I want to make game winning field goals,” he said. “I want to feel that pressure, I want that pressure to come on me. I think I can handle that pressure. I want to hit a couple of game winning field goals… put me in the situation to win the game.”
And this time he won’t have Nick Saban or Jim McElwain breathing down his neck vying for his first college scholarship offer. Sounds like a piece of cake.