GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Florida kicker Eddy Pineiro says coach Jim McElwain has indicated he’ll let him try a field goal from 65 or 68 yards in a game this season, and he hopes he indeed gets that chance.
“I mean, he can say it messing around. Let’s see if he actually does it. I mean, I’m ready for it,” Pineiro said after practice Tuesday.
After all, Pineiro’s range is becoming a thing of legend.
He went viral back in the spring when he tweeted out a video of himself making an 81-yard field goal in practice, and McElwain later vouched for the authenticity of the kick.
— Eddy Piñeiro (@eddypineiro1) May 2, 2017
The redshirt junior kicker recalls he made a 70-yard field goal during practice when he was in junior college and later a 77-yard kick during a camp before signing with Florida and making his college football debut last fall. The 81-yarder was just a continuation of that progression
While it created a lot of buzz after the video posted in May, Pineiro said he didn’t get caught up in the social media swirl.
“Coach Mac was out there and he saw it. That’s the important part,” he said. “I don’t really read comments and stuff like that. I don’t know, I saw I got a lot of likes and retweets.”
Pineiro was an instant star with the Gators last season while making 21 of 25 field goals, including 3-for-3 on attempts of 50 yards or longer. His 11 field goals of 40-plus yards were the most by a Florida kicker in a season since 1996, and his two 54-yard field goals are tied for the sixth-longest in school history.
But he believes he can be even better in 2017.
“When I hit that 81-yarder in the offseason, even though it wasn’t in a game, I feel like my leg strength has just gotten better. I feel like my accuracy has gotten better and my kickoffs are more explosive,” he said.
Pineiro was asked Tuesday if he has given any thought to leaving Florida after one season and declaring for the NFL draft. He said he did think about it, but with the volatility of the position he believes NFL scouts want to see him have another great season to show his consistency.
Eventually, though, the NFL is the goal, and he has a keen sense for what it takes to be successful at the next level.
Pineiro works out with Philadelphia Eagles kicker Caleb Sturgis, Kansas City Chiefs kicker Cairo Santos and Pittsburgh Steelers kicker Chris Boswell during the offseason in Gainesville and has an especially close connection with Sturgis, a former Gators kicker.
“Caleb has always known that I have a pretty strong leg and he’s always positive so every time he sees something that I do he always sends me a message, like, ‘Hey, keep it going. I see you playing on Sundays.’ This and that,” he said.
Pineiro said he focused on his long field goals this offseason and reiterated that he wants the chance to test the limits of his leg in a game, but that’s not the only goal.
“Who doesn’t want to go 100 percent? I would love to go 100 percent,” he said. “I feel more confident going into this season than I did last because it was my first year ever playing football in front of a crowd or whatever. I feel way more confident. I feel way more accurate. I feel stronger, more explosive.”
All the while trying to do whatever he can to get McElwain to give him the green light for one of those 65-yard attempts.
Pineiro said he closed a recent practice with a 54-yard field goal as the team gathered around him and McElwain tried to simulate game-like pressure.
He remained locked in, as he hopes to be all fall.
“He brought the whole team around me, had everybody throw water on me, like scream and stuff to try to get me unfocused, but I came through,” he said.