Florida commitments Maurkice and Michael Pouncey are keeping a weekly diary for Gator Country for the remainder of the season as the Lakeland Dreadnaughts try to win their third straight state championship and their second straight USAToday national championship. Lakeland has won 42 straight games. Next up for Lakeland is Lake Gibson in the third round of the state 5A playoffs Friday night.
MAURKICE POUNCEY: We just got back from Gainesville from our official visit and it was probably the most fun weekend I’ve ever had. It turned out better than I thought it would. I knew it would be good from all the times we’ve been up there to Florida, but it was different this time.
We had a game Friday night but we came to Gainesville after the game. We got to the Hilton at 2 a.m. and man it was cold. I was wearing basketball shorts and a T-shirt. I was really cold!
Saturday morning we got up and we got to talk to the academic people at Florida. They got a plan for us to succeed and I like that. Everybody has a plan for you for football. I like that Florida has an academic plan for you and they want to get you ready for when football ends. I want to play pro football some day but I have to get ready for the day when football is all over. I hope it’s not for a long time but I want to be ready for when it is.
We got to go in the locker room with the Gators before the game. I really liked the way their seniors were getting everybody ready for their day. Joe Cohen slapped this one guy up side the helmet. He was laughing about something and that got his attention. It just got really crunk in there after that.
The game was fun. The Gators had more points than the other team had yards. That doesn’t happen too often. Man, Tim Tebow was doing it. I can’t wait to block for him and all those other young guys. I think we’re going to have a great team.
We went to the locker room after the game, too, and that’s always great. I like the way Coach Meyer talks to the team and then guys get up and talk about what it means to be a Gator.
We ate dinner Saturday night at Coach Meyer’s house. We shot pool, ate dinner and we watched some of Ohio State and Michigan. Then we went to the basketball game with Brandon Spikes and Mo Hurt. That’s a lot of fun, too. The Gators are really good. We went over to Jarvis Moss’s house and we watched the USC game there. It was a great day.
When we woke up this morning we had breakfast with the coaches. We saw where we’re going to live on campus and that’s pretty cool. We signed all the papers we have to have so we can move in when we get there in January.
Then we sat down with Coach Meyer, Coach Addazio and Coach Strong for a family meeting. It was good talk because they told us what’s really going to happen. They put it out there and let us know that no spot is going to be given to us but they’ll give us a chance to earn our way on the field like everybody else. That’s all we can ask. Nobody ever gave us a place without us working for us. Not even our dad when he coached us in little league. He made us work to play and this is what they’re going to do at Florida. The chance is there for us. All we have to do is take the step and put it all on the line. If you want to make it far you have to be willing to put it all on the line and give 100 percent.
First thing that happened when we got back to Lakeland was we had to tell everybody about the visit. We don’t have school this week because of Thanksgiving so we don’t have homework to do or tests to study for. All we have to do is get ready for Lake Gibson Friday night.
It’s a three-game season now. All our goals are down to three games. Sometimes I wonder where all the time went. It seems like yesterday when we were freshmen and here we are seniors trying to win our third state championship.
I knew we were going to beat Gaither bad when we played them Friday night. Every player was ready to put it on the line for the game. You could feel that the whole team was together and ready to go. We usually don’t get crunk in the tunnel waiting to come out for the game but we were jumping around and really on edge Friday night. Even Chris Rainey was crunk. He’s always laid back and he doesn’t get going until the kickoff but there he was before the game jumping around like everybody else. He was ready to go and it showed the way he played.
We have Lake Gibson again Friday night for the region championship. We already beat them but they’re doing some talking about how they’re going to beat us this time because they gave up last time and all that. Their running back says that he gave up last time and that he won’t quit this time. Why would you ever quit? Why would you talk about how you quit in a game anyway?
If we win Friday we’re down to two more games and then that’s it. Three straight seasons of 15-0 is the goal. We’ll practice so hard this week since we don’t have school. We’re going to be one ready team this week.
MICHAEL POUNCEY: The official visit to Florida was really awesome. It just sealed it in our minds that we’re going to the right place. Coach Meyer, Coach Addazio, Coach Hevesy … all the coaches made us feel right at home. We’re Florida Gators. Nobody needs to be calling us anymore. A lot of people have kept on calling us even though we tell them they’re stupid to keep calling. Man, we’re Gators. We’re really Gators now after this visit. They’re just wasting their time to call. Our answer’s going to be the same as it’s been. We’re not interested. We’re 100 percent committed to Florida. Maybe they’ll get the hint.
The best part about the weekend was sitting down with the coaches today and listening to them tell us what’s expected of you here. They talked a lot about how they expect you to be responsible enough to go to class and to do what’s expected of you for the team. It’s all about doing the right thing and being part of the team with these guys. You don’t let yourself down and you don’t let the coaches and your teammates down. It’s a good place to be the next four years for football.
I like it that they don’t promise that you’ll start or anything. All they tell you is that you come in here and you show us that you’ll work harder than anyone else and stuff like that and you’ll get on the field. With these coaches it’s all about competing and that’s fine with my brother and me. We got raised on competing. That’s why we play football because we like to compete. All we want is a chance and the coaches at Florida will give you a chance. One thing they can know about us is that we won’t slack off for even one play. You slack off and that’s like asking somebody to take your place.
I think you can trust Coach Meyer. He looks you right in the eye and he talks to you. He may not tell you what you want to hear but you know he’s telling you what’s in his heart. I like that.
After the game Saturday we went to Coach Meyer’s house to eat dinner. We had steak and a lot of stuff. We really had a great time there. He made us and our parents feel like we were really welcome to come visit him anytime.
After dinner we went over to the basketball game for awhile with Mo Hurt and Brandon Spikes. Spikes is one cool dude. We watched football over at Jarvis Moss’s house after the basketball game, too.
No school this week so all we’re going to do is sleep, eat, practice and prepare for Lake Gibson Friday night. I think we’re going to be on edge when we play them. They’ve been talking smack a lot. I guess they don’t remember what we did to them last time. But, we’re taking them very serious. Let them talk. We’ll do our talking on the field Friday night.
We’ll watch a lot of film this week and we’ll be really focused in practice. People all the time want to know why Lakeland is so good. The secret of the Dreadnaughts is the way we prepare. By the time a game gets here we’re so well prepared for every time the line shifts, every time they blitz, every time they do something different. We know what to expect and we’re ready for it.
I give a lot of credit to Coach Castle for that. I think he’s got to be one of the best high school coaches there is. Look at his teams but look at what happens with his players. Just about all of them go to college and get a degree and they’re successful in something after they quit playing football. I think he’s done a lot for my brother and me about getting us ready to go on to play college football. I think he’s got us ready to go on in life, too. We’ve learned a lot of good lessons from him.
We have three more football games left but it starts Friday night. We can’t be looking to the state championship game. We have to beat Lake Gibson and then we have to win the next week. Right now, the focus is on Lake Gibson. We’ll be ready to compete Friday night. A lot of those guys on Lake Gibson are friends of ours off the field, but when the game starts, there are no friends except the guys who are Dreadnaughts. We have a goal and we can’t let anybody stand in our way.