When kicker Eddy Pineiro (6-1, 180, Miami, FL ASA) committed to the Florida Gators last week he made a lot of fans and coaches very happy as the Gators desperately needed a kicker in the class of 2016.
Pineiro’s recruitment didn’t always look promising for Florida, but he ultimately decided to choose the Gators over the Alabama Crimson Tide for one big reason.
“The reason why I chose Florida over Alabama is because I wanted to stay closer to home,” Pineiro said. “I wanted my parents to be able to just drive up four hours to watch me play. Another thing was when Coach McElwain visited my family; he had just lost to Alabama in the SEC Championship game and the next morning for his first home visit he was at my house. That meant a lot to me and my family.”
The opportunity that Florida has at the kicker position was also something that Pineiro couldn’t pass up, and he has big plans for his time in Gainesville.
“I saw a great, great opportunity at Florida, the kicking game struggled a lot last year at Florida,” he said. “I think me coming there gives me a great opportunity to start but I know I have to win the spot. I’m working hard to win that spot and I want to be the best kicker to ever come out of Florida. I also want to be a part of a rebuilding program that wins a championship.”
Florida Gators head coach Jim McElwain used his first in-home visit to see Pineiro and that was a moment that Pineiro will never forget.
“Coach McElwain told me that they’re a rebuilding program that needs help in the kicking game,” Pineiro said. “A funny thing that he told me during my home visit was that he said ‘I know I should probably be at a quarterback or a receiver’s house right now, but I’m at a kicker’s house,’ we all started laughing when he said that.”
When McElwain went in-home with Pineiro that Sunday, the Miami kicker decided to feed McElwain something he had never had before but something that McElwain liked after trying.
“I gave him Cuban food for the first time, he had never eaten it before and he absolutely loved it,” he said. “He told me that if he didn’t like it that he would be straight up with me but he told me that he loved it.”
Pineiro arrives in Gainesville in January and he will take part of spring practice for the Florida Gators and he hopes that he’s able to build confidence between himself and McElwain for next football season.
“My goal is to change the kicking game at Florida next season,” Pineiro said. “I want coach to feel comfortable with me hitting 65 and 70-yard field goals and I know I’m capable of doing that. I’m getting more comfortable hitting 65 and 70-yard field goals every day. I want to break records and I want to be the best thing that has come out of Florida kicking wise when I’m done with school.”
The Miami kicker has all of the tools to be a good kicker, but he does lack game experience. Pineiro does say that he has faced the pressure before and succeeded.
“A lot of people ask me how I’m going to react under pressure because I’ve never kicked in a game before,” he said. “What I’ve been telling everyone is that when I went to Alabama and beat out the other 300 kickers and when you have Nick Saban standing right next to you watching every kick and I came out on top. I think you can call that pressure. I also had to kick in front of Coach Jim McElwain so I call that pressure when you have to kick in front of the head coach and then beat out all of the best kickers in the nation.”
Now that Pineiro has his recruitment behind him, he’s focused on life in Gainesville and he has already picked out a roommate for January.
“I’ve created a good bond with [Mark] Thompson and we’re going to be rooming together,” Pineiro said. “We have become good friends and created a good bond with each other lately.”
INSIDERS TAKE: Pineiro stated that while he has never kicked in a regular season game before, that he did kick in ASA college’s spring game last year and was 4-4 in field goal tries.