Content provided by Swamp Things – Gators Blog.
Florida RB/WR Chris Rainey helped convince Lakeland teammates Ahmad Black and Mike and Maurkice Pouncey to become Gators rather than go to Florida State. (Orlando Sentinel photo)
Florida strong safety Ahmad Black grew up a Florida State fan. Mike and Maurkice Pouncey, Black’s teammates at Lakeland, verbally committed to the Seminoles.
So how did all three end up at rival Florida? Chris Rainey.
All four high school teammates at Lakeland, they – along with Steven Wilks – ultimately picked the Gators. As Florida prepares to face the Seminoles on Saturday, Black joked that Rainey “probably had stock in Gatorade” t0 want to come to Florida so badly.
“Chris Rainey was kind of the lead nut in the whole deal, the lead recruit,” said coach Urban Meyer. “He was a guy that I first met him at an FCA banquet down in Tampa, Outback Bowl deal, we developed a great relationships via phone and everything else from there. From then, the Pounceys jumped and Ahmad Black jumped and Steve Wilks jumped.”
Black’s joking aside, Rainey might have helped Meyer land some of the best recruits during his tenure at Florida. Maurkice Pouncey was the school’s first Rimington Trophy winner as the nation’s top center and was taken 18th in the NFL draft. Mike stayed in school to increase his draft stock, and recent projections have him going in the first round this year.
Despite his size, Black is the best strong safety in college football, his coaches argue. He leads the Gators with 96 tackles and has three interceptions this season. At 5-foot-9, 190 pounds, he doesn’t fit the NFL mold, but defensive coordinator Teryl Austin – who spent six years coaching defensive backs in the NFL – says a team should take him.
“They offered me a scholarship,” Black said of Florida. “I was too small and too slow to go to Florida State.”
Wilks’ return from a back injury has helped paved the way for an improved running game, something Rainey has contributed to. He has been the team’s leading rusher since returning from suspension, gaining 211 rushing and 553 all-purpose yards in the past four games.
“I can remember Rainey got maybe three scholarship offers coming out of high school.,” Black said. “Everybody use to wonder why, and I was like well maybe because he told everybody he wanted to come to Florida. I can remember coach Meyer asked me did I want to come here,and I had Rainey right here standing in my ear saying, ‘Yes, yes!’
“Rainey played a big factor.”