Art Rooney, II:Good afternoon. We're pleased to introduce to you today our first-round draft choice, Maurkice Pouncey. And I'd like to say congratulations, number one, to Maurkice and welcome to Pittsburgh. He comes to us from one of the great programs in the country, the University of Florida, where he's had a tremendous amount of success, all-American, first-team all-American this past season, winner of the Rimington Trophy, which is awarded to the outstanding center in the nation. He comes to us with a great pedigree and we're excited to have him here and join the Pittsburgh Steelers where over the years, we've been very fortunate to have a number of great centers. And we look forward to having Maurkice step into those shoes at some point. So first, Maurkice, coach and I would like to present you with your first Steelers' jersey. Now Maurkice will say a few words.
Maurkice Pouncey: I just want to start off by thanking the Rooneys and the whole Steelers' organization and all the fans of the Pittsburgh nation. Just thanks for having me; it's really an honor to play here. Any questions?
Has it sunk in yet that you're a Steeler?
It's so amazing to me. It really hasn't even hit me yet, but I am so happy I am a Pittsburgh Steeler. I always wanted this ever since I came out and met them at the Combine. This is where I wanted to be at.
What was it about the Steelers that attracted you?
Definitely the fans and the coaching staff. I got real close with Coach Tomlin and we had a good conversation, just the whole organization.
Describe the scene at your house.
It was amazing to have all the fans and friends, and family members to come by and say congratulations. And have it where everybody can experience what I experienced last night.
You got the jacket on, are you ready for Pittsburgh weather?
Yeah, a little bit.
How do you think you will fit in?
I think I am going to fit in very well. We got a great group of guys here, and I can't wait to get on the field and meet all the guys.
Are you ready for the possible transition from center to guard?
Most definitely. I'm ready for my challenge. I know that I got a lot of work to do, and first I got to first of all get in here and learn the playbook and get accepted by my teammates.
Did you enter the Draft thinking you would be a guard?
No definitely not. I came into the draft as an interior lineman. That's always been the thought since day one. And I'm ready for it.
What's your preferred position?
Whatever the team needs.
How did playing in the SEC prepare you for the NFL?
I think we played some good guys. Over my years I played a lot of the greats, top-round draft picks, so I'm pretty ready for it.
Did you remember the only sack you gave up in your college career?
I don't remember that. I wish it was none.
Can you talk about your twin?
My mom dressed us as we were little, but I love my twin, Michael, to death. It's just amazing that you are always with somebody, but it's the time in our life now that we're separated and we're grown men, and we got to go on about our lives.
Going to college with your twin no matter what?
Talk about your decision to turn pro so your twin can showcase himself.
I think my situation was a lot better than Mike's. A lot of teams have never seen Mike play actual center in the game, and they seen me play guard my whole freshman year. So Mike came back, he made the decision. I think he made a smart decision coming back next year; he'll probably be the top guy hopefully.
Did you talk about that a lot?
Mike's decision was a lot easier than mine. My decision came down to the last day. And I guess he sat down with the coaching staff and felt like he needed to come back and be able to play two positions.
When did you know you were going to be a Steeler?
In my heart I knew it since day one. But I knew last night I was a Steeler.
What was the phone call like from Coach?
MP: I wanted to cry but my brother told me, "Man keep it real, don't cry on TV." So I didn't cry. I held it in. But it was amazing. It's so shocking. I wish everybody could experience that feeling how it is when somebody calls you and tells you that you're their first overall pick. Like I said, it hasn't hit me yet. I can't wait until it does.
Were you close to returning to Florida?
Yes, most definitely.
What made you make the decision?
I sat down the last day. I called my coach and I sat down with my family and I felt that it was just right for me. I slept on it and I talked with them and they felt comfortable with it and I felt comfortable with my decision.
Your offensive line coach said you are an energy giver, not an energy taker – can you explain that?
I think he is talking about how I never have a down day. I always come in smiling no matter what happens. I guess I am the kind of guy that everyone likes to be around. It kind of started with my dad, he always got on us about being good people to everyone else and we just took it and ran with it.
Can you talk about your step dad and his accident and how it gave you strength?
It was so amazing, when that accident actually happened, he woke up I think Wednesday and we came down. The accident had happened on Monday and he woke up and he kind of wanted us to be there but he knew in his heart that we had to go play in that game against Florida State. He forced us to go back to school. So much respect for him. I love that guy to death.
What did you think when you got the call from your mom regarding your dad?
I thought she was playing because she usually calls. We call each other a lot, we are real close to my mom, she had us at a young age. We always joke around about stuff and when we knew that she was serious, the first thing we did was get in our car and drive to Lakeland.
You have a tattoo of your father, did you get that before or after the accident?
I've got so many I can't even tell you.
You have one of your father, right?
Yeah. Me and my brother and Hernandez got tattoo crazy and didn't stop until everything was filled up.
Do you realize the tradition here and what was your thought walking past the Lombardi trophies?
Yes and I've got a lot to live up to. I've been reading and there are a lot of great guys that have played in a Pittsburgh uniform.
What do you think of this city?
It's amazing. It's nice. Some people already knew me at the airport. It's crazy how people already know you. I'm just happy I am here. I see the fans on TV and they are just so amazing.
People were congratulating you at the airport?
Yeah, couple of them. It was shocking. I'm a lineman. I didn't think it would ever happen like that. I am kind of in the ground, I get in there and get in the trenches.
How did your teammates tell you and your brother apart?
Most of them don't, they just call us Pounce. But Hernandez knows because we have been with him since day one.
Have you been to Pittsburgh before?
No. Never. It's amazing though. I like it.
How you talked to Coach (Urban) Meyer yet?
The day of the draft. He said congratulations and wish I could be there but he couldn't come to one person's and not make it to someone else's.
Talk about your high school team.
It was so amazing because we grew up with the guys. We had city league and pee wee league and we all kind of went to the same high school and we all knew each other just from relationships in the past. It was just so amazing those games and we have a high school town. So everyone loves Lakeland football and they all showed up to the game, it was amazing how much love, they treated us with a lot of respect and we gave back to the community.
You were only the second true freshman to start for Florida. How did your high school prepare for that and how has Florida prepared you for the NFL?
Our boosters rebuilt the facilities at Lakeland. We had a great weight room, a great head coach and a great assistant coach. Just all around they prepared us the right way on how to be tough and how to be great men and going on about your careers. At Florida they did an amazing job, Coach Meyer and the whole staff, my offensive line coach, Steve Addazio, is like another father to me. They excelled my career. I tell them thanks all of the time and he says there is no reason to thank him and I am like, you are the main part of my life and I wanted to tell him that.
Do you know any current players on the team?
Yes, Max Starks. He is from Florida.
Re: your dad coming to the national championship game only a month after his accident?
It was so exciting. We wanted him to come to the SEC game but he couldn't make it to that one. But when he came to that is was so exciting. Coach Meyer brought him around the team and everyone cheered for him. It brought tears to my eyes. It was amazing what he went through and how he is handling it.
Any chance of getting number 56 from LaMarr (Woodley)?
That ain't happening.
There was a picture of you and your brother on a scooter. You would ride a scooter together?
You've got no money when you are in college and you have to make it to school some way.
You use to ride on the same scooter?
We've got another lineman, Carl Johnson that weighed 365, him and Marcus Gilbert the other right tackle, they were on the same scooter at one time. It looked even worse than me and my brother.