Twins don't always take the same route in life, but Mike Pouncey made the decision to split from his brother at an important time in their lives.
Last year, Maurkice Pouncey made the decision to leave Florida after his junior season and enter the NFL draft. All he did was earn Pro Bowl honors in his first year in the league, and the only game he missed was the Steelers' Super Bowl loss to the Green Bay Packers.
Twin brother Mike had a chance to enter the draft last year as well, but he decided to return for his senior season at Florida because "I felt I owed my offensive line coach to go back to school" and because he wasn't convinced he would be a first-round draft pick.
He still might not engender that elite status, but there is no lack of confidence from Mike in the sibling/twin rivalry.
"All the stuff my brother accomplished, we're fierce competitors, obviously. Everything he accomplished I want to do the same thing and even better," Mike said at the NFL Scouting Combine. "I know I'm a great player and I'm just hoping to be one of the top guys taken this year."
Mike's aspirations may not become reality, especially if he's hoping to "one up" Maurkice's draft position from 2010. Maurkice was chosen 18th by the Steelers.
"I got to be drafted higher than Maurkice, 18th or better," Mike said. "I'd never hear the end of it."
Pouncey is the third-ranked guard on Scout.com's draft rankings, but his move to center – taking over for his twin – may be a move that sticks in the NFL.
"I knew all the line calls, it was just tough after the first game," Mike said, referring to some blown snaps in his first live action at center in 2010. "I went out and had a bad game. I felt like crap. I told myself when I left the locker room I'd never play like that again. Since that game I had a great season."
Mike wants to play center in the NFL and likely will get the call there.
While Mike admits the Maurkice "was dominant in college and he played great in the NFL," the sibling rivalry in Mike just can't be suppressed. He said some scouts are telling him he looks better than Maurkice.
"I got to get drafted first. I want to beat him at everything," Mike said. "We compete with each other with anything we do. I have to get into
camp and I have to earn a starting spot and I have to play great like he did."
Mike deciding to forgo the 2010 draft for the first time separated the Pouncey twins for the first time in their football careers. While Maurkice was on his way to a Pro Bowl season, Mike was learning his twin's old position. It wasn't natural at the outset, but he improved after his rough first outing, to the point that center is his preferred position.
Separating himself from Maurkice was far from a snap.
"It was new, it was tough, especially because we spent our whole life together. Even if I came out we would have been separated anyway," Mike theorized, and he realizes he might still end up back with Maurkice if Pittsburgh is looking for a right guard. "I'm aware of it, man, but like I said they got the 31st pick and I got to go before 18th."
Mike said he has been "very impressive" when meeting with coaches and scouts – he won't be drafted for humility – and said he is a better blocker in the open field than Maurkice.
But besides the different jerseys they wore last year, there is one way to tell the two apart. Mike says the tattoos under his shirt are more plentiful, but without that branding, even coaches and fans have a hard time telling them apart.
"When I was at Dallas for the (Super Bowl) game, at the hotel, they thought I was him the whole time. Sometimes I acted like I was him; sometimes I told them I wasn't," Mike said. "Fans. Couple coaches. I didn't sign any fake autographs. When it got to that part, I told them I wasn't him.
He even heard he should suit up and play in place of his injured twin during the Super Bowl and would have loved to if he would have known the plays.
Still, despite all the comparisons, Mike said there is no pressure or drawbacks to the assessments.
"Not at all. There's nothing negative about either one of us," Mike said. "On the field we play hard, off the field were lovable guys and people love being around us. We're the total package."
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.
Sibling rivalry alive, thriving with Pounceys
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