Merry Christmas, Florida fans. We got a kicker.
This is @CoachMcElwain reaction when I told him I was going to be a gator! I love this guy! 🐊 pic.twitter.com/oyiNuryXBH
— Eddy Piñeiro (@EddyPineiro) December 17, 2015
One day after decommitting from Alabama, top JUCO kicker Eddy Piniero changed his mind and committed to Florida. He also announced on twitter that will sign his letter of intent tonight, effectively ending a heated fight for his services that’s spanned several months.
But make no mistake. That fight was warranted.
Florida’s kicking struggles have been well documented this year. Although Austin Hardin boasts game winning field goals against Tennessee and Vanderbilt, he’s missed what feels like every other semi-meaningful field goal he’s ever attempted. He’s got a big leg, but he’s very inaccurate and simply can’t be trusted. There’s also Jorge Powell, who missed most of the season with an injury, and walk-on Neil MacInnis on the depth chart, but neither are any more reliable than Hardin. So the answer to the Gators’ season-long kicking issues has to be a new one.
That’s where Piniero- Jim McElwain’s most impressive flip job of his young coaching career- comes in.
Once upon a time, Pineiro was a soccer star at Sunset Senior High School in Miami who wanted to continue his soccer career for Florida Atlantic. But after being rerouted to ASA Miami junior college instead, Pineiro took up kicking a football- and got pretty good at it. While training this past June, he made a 73 yard field goal. But that was a mere teaser of what was to come.
77 yarder the grind don't stop working hard to be the best. pic.twitter.com/p5s4GQVpAi
— Eddy Piñeiro (@EddyPineiro) December 1, 2015
Raise your hand if you know anybody else who’s ever made a 77 yard field goal, even in the reduced gravity of the Rocky Mountains. I don’t.
The only concern is that he’s never kicked in a live game before. He’s been a soccer player all his life, and that includes this past season at ASA Miami, so how he’ll do in a tie game against Georgia in the fourth quarter is a legitimate worry. But c’mon. A 77 yard field goal? That’s unheard of. Think about this. That’s 14 yards longer than the current NFL record, and his 73 yarder this past summer proved that it was no fluke. Oh, and by the way, Florida’s going to have him for the next three years. So if his accuracy is even somewhat proportionate to his leg strength, the Gators have found themselves an All-American kicker.