GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Saturday’s season-opener against Massachusetts has been a long time coming for new Florida Gators kicker Eddy Pineiro.
“It’s going to be a dream come true,” Pineiro said in a recent interview. “I’ve been working for two years every single day, kicking just for that moment.”
What he has been working for is finally here, and Pineiro is eager to prove that his "Odell Kickem" nickname – bestowed on him by fans on Twitter – is warranted.
"I haven't missed a day in two years," Pineiro said with a big smile on his face. "It's what I've worked for."
If nothing else, Pineiro -- who will wear No. 15, Tim Tebow's old number -- has become something of a YouTube sensation. There are videos of him kicking field goals of up to 77 yards. Those wondering about Pineiro never have questioned the strength of his leg but rather how will he react: Pineiro, a former soccer player, never has attempted a field goal in a real game.
Pineiro did kick a few extra points in high school at Miami Sunset but never a field goal. Thus, Jim McElwain and the coaching staff have tried to manufacture situations during fall camp that create "stress" when he kicks.
"I think it's going to benefit me," Pineiro said when referencing the pressure-filled situations in practice. "When it comes down to a game-winner, same noise as when the whole team is around me, screaming in my ear, throwing water on me, trying to get me off-balance. ... I think that is definitely is going to help me get better."
Even with his lack of experience, Pineiro and his big leg are expected to be a big upgrade over the situation Florida had last season. The Gators were just 7-of-17 on field goals (41.2 percent), but even more damning was that UF missed five extra points.
If Pineiro can consistently make extra points and field goals – of any distance – he will add an element that the Gators sorely lacked a year ago.
(You can follow Matt Fitzsimmons on Twitter @Fitzsimmons22)
© 2016, Matt Fitzsimmons. All rights reserved.
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