Editor’s note: SDS is ranking the 25 best SEC players — at any position — of the last decade. Florida OL Mike Pouncey is the sixth member of a 25-part daily series.


Long before the bullying incident with the Miami Dolphins for which he is best known, he was born James Michael Pouncey, a standout offensive lineman who helped Lakeland High School to consecutive USA Today national championships.

A four-star recruit, Urban Meyer secured Mike — and his twin brother Maurkice –over Florida State, Clemson, Miami and Michigan.

Maurkice Pouncey can make a great case for our Top 25 rankings. He’s 4-for-4 as an All-Pro center for the Pittsburgh Steelers after spending two years starting at the position for the Gators, winning the Rimington Trophy as an All-American in 2009.

But Mike Pouncey stayed in Gainesville for an extra year, earning him not one, but two appearances as a first-team All-American. His career got off to an interesting start in 2007, as Meyer moved him to defensive line to counter a spate of injuries. Pouncey made a tackle for loss and an interception in somewhat limited time, starting four games as a true freshman despite rarely even playing defense in high school.

The Gators moved him back to right guard in 2008, and he remained there for all 28 games in ’08 and ’09. Florida won the national championship in ’08 and then both Pouncey twins earned All-American honors the next year, playing shoulder to shoulder.

Then Maurkice left for the NFL, Mike slid into his center spot and started all 13 games once again.

In some ways this slot goes to both Pounceys, who gave Meyer and the Gators a physical, nasty presence on the offensive line that helped pave the way for Tim Tebow and company in a dominant offense.

Since getting drafted, Mike Pouncey has made the Pro Bowl in each of the last two seasons for the Dolphins.

Career numbers: Played in 54 games and started 45 at Florida.

Individual superlatives: 2008 — Second-team All-SEC; 2009 — First-team All-American, First-team All-SEC; 2010 — First-team All-American, second-team All-SEC.

NFL Draft: No. 15 overall to the Miami Dolphins in 2011.