VETTEL: Pouncey Should Never Switch Back

Freshman Michael Pouncey clearly lit a fire under the Florida defense last week, and the Gator coaches know it. They know it so well that they have committed to keeping the rookie from Lakeland at defensive tackle for the remainder of this season.

I'd like to go ahead and get on the record with this recommendation; leave Pouncey on that side of the ball for the rest of his Gator career.

It's truly remarkable that a guy can have that much of an impact on the unit on less than a week of practice. It's even more amazing that a guy who was in high school a year ago is the one making that kind of an impact. Sure, Pouncey has a ton to learn about playing defensive tackle, seeing how his only previous experience there came in goal line situations. Still, there are a number of reasons why this position switch should be the last one he makes.

Offensive guards are much easier to find --- No offense to anyone who blocks people for a living, but this is a clear fact. Year in and year out the toughest position to fill on the recruiting trail is an academically eligible, full sized defensive tackle. If you have a 6-4, 315-pounder who is ready, willing and able to play on that side of the ball for the next three-plus seasons you thank him, pat him on the head and move on.

Defensive line is a higher priority --- Which is more valuable, a backup center or a starting defensive tackle? Ok, that was too easy. Which is more valuable an outstanding starting center (which Pouncey could be next year) or an outstanding defensive tackle? Either way it's clear that a run stuffing tackle is worth way more. If you don't agree just watch what happens in the NFL draft every year. Mediocre defensive tackles get picked before all conference centers and guards every year. If Pouncey is Florida's best player at either position (center or nose guard) then he should play defense.

It's a better fit for Florida's roster --- With Drew Miller graduating Florida will need a center next year. While that's a void that must be filled, there's a pretty good chance Florida can find one from the group that includes Carl Johnson, James Wilson and Maurice Hurt. If Marcus Gilbert emerges at tackle, then Phil Trautwein would become another option to play in the middle of the line. On defense, only Torrey Davis can match Pouncey's size. Those two plus Terron Sanders and John Brown makes for a formidable quartet inside and would allow Lawrence Marsh and Carl Dunlap to go back to their preferred end spots. That could be very important in 2008 if Derrick Harvey opts for the NFL draft as many expect.

Easier on the media --- Michael and his twin brother Maurkice look alike, as you might expect. They also act alike, smile alike and sound alike. At least by putting them on opposite sides of the ball we'll be able to differentiate the two coming off the practice field. And we're not the only ones that benefit. The coaches, teammates and fans will all benefit from knowing Maurkice is on defense and Michael is on offense. Or is it the other way around?

Questions or comments? Contact's Larry Vettel

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