Brothers in pro sports are not incredibly rare, but twin brothers in pro sports are. Mike and Maurkice Pouncey fit into that rare category. Born on July 24th, 1989 in Ardmore, Oklahoma these two brothers have made a name for themselves in just 22 short years.
Mike and Maurkice played high school football in the state of Florida for Lakeland High, anchoring the line that led to three straight Florida Class 5A titles and two straight USA Today National Championships. After graduation, they took their talents to the University of Florida.
Both earned playing time as true freshman. Maurkice started 11 games at right guard earning freshman first team All-American and was on the All-SEC freshman team. Mike started out playing on the offensive line but was moved to the defensive line where he started 4 games, finishing with 8 tackles and 1 interception, the interception coming in the Capital One bowl coming off of Michigan’s Chad Henne.
In 2008, Mike and Maurkice started in all 14 games including the National Championship game against Oklahoma. Mike earned second team All- SEC, while Maurkice earned All-SEC Honorable mention. In 2009 both brothers excelled. Maurkice was a consensus All-American and won the Rimington Award as the Nation’s Top Center. Mike earned All-SEC for his stellar play at guard.
After their Junior seasons both were weighing the pros and cons as to enter the NFL Draft, Maurkice’s draft stock was graded higher than his brother. Most draft experts and teams had him going in the 15-20 range in the first round, where Mike was given a slightly lower grade most had him in the early second round. After a tough decision, the twins decided to be apart for the first time in their lives. Maurkice would enter the NFL while Mike would stay for his senior season to improve his skills and hopefully improve his draft stock for the following season.
Maurkice was selected 18th overall by the Pittsburgh Steelers. Since Maurkice had played both guard and center in college, the Steeler’s coaches were not sure where he would play entering training camp. Early into training camp Maurkice showed his true talent that everybody knew was there but weren’t quite sure how long it would take to arrive. He began taking reps with the first team offense at center in training camp and never looked back. Maurkice had an amazing rookie season, starting all 16 games and the first two playoff games against the Ravens and the Jets. But in the first drive against the Jets, he had his ankle rolled up on by another lineman and missed the rest of the game and eventually missed Super bowl XLV as well, putting a damper on an otherwise great season. Maurkice was the anchor for the O-line that saw many injuries throughout the season and had gone through a variety of different lineman rotations. All the while, Maurkice earned praise from his coaches and teammates each week. His outstanding play each week earned him a Pro-Bowl selection, accompanied by second team All-Pro Honors. He also won the Joe Greene great performance award from the Steelers organization as the top rookie. Maurkice looks to be next in line as one of the great centers in Steeler’s history, behind Hall of Famer Mike Webster, and soon to be Hall of Famer, Dermontti Dawson.
While his brother was blocking for Ben Roethlisberger, Mike was blocking for young quarterback John Brantly. Mike and the Florida Gators had a rough season going 8-5. Mike entered the season as the starting center, replacing his brother. In the opening game, Mike had a rough time in the shotgun, messing up a few snaps. As the season went along, Mike began to fit in more and more at his new position as he started all 12 games. Finishing the season being named AP All-SEC second team, Mike has become the number one rated center on many experts’ draft boards, making his decision to come back to Florida extremely well worth it. Mike is projected to go as early as the late first round. With his ability to play both guard and center it makes him more valuable to teams. Mike has quick feet for a 6’5 309lb mammoth of a man and, like his brother, is very athletic.
Now the big question. Will the Steelers select Mike to play alongside his brother? Well, there is an excellent chance that he will still be available with the 31st pick. The Steelers need to plug holes on their beat up offensive line and Mike has said “They tell my brother all the time they want to draft me”. This just gives us all an extra story line to follow entering the NFL draft this April. Wherever Mike is selected, it looks like he will become a pillar on the offensive line for years to come.