Last spring, he watched his twin brother and former Florida offensive linemate, Maurkice, forgo his senior season to make the jump to the NFL.
Maurkice was selected in the first round of the 2010 draft by the Pittsburgh Steelers, signed a five-year, $18 million contract, then earned Pro Bowl honors at center and an AFC championship in his rookie season.
Mike Pouncey, meanwhile, returned to Gainesville, Fla., and vacated his familiar spot at right guard to take over for Maurkice in the middle while trying to boost his draft stock, which he thinks was in the second-round range last year.
It was not exactly a smooth transition.
To start, Mike Pouncey, 21, had to cope with the first-ever separation from his sibling and best friend.
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"It was new; it was tough, especially because we spent our whole life together," the Lakeland, Fla., native said. "Even if I came out (for the 2010 draft), we would have been separated anyway."
But Pouncey also proved scattershot with the shotgun snap in his debut as a snapping Gator.
"I went out and had a bad game. … I told myself when I left the locker room, I'd never play like that again. Since that game, I had a great season," he said.
"I felt like I let everybody in that stadium down. I couldn't sleep. I woke up next morning, I was the first one in that building, and from then on I got it fixed."
Pouncey is confident he has remedied those early misfires to the extent that he'll be drafted to play center, his preferred position. (NFLDraftScout.com, USA TODAY's scouting service, ranks him as its No. 1 interior offensive lineman, though the website lists him at guard rather than center.)
Pouncey is hoping to get such questions answered April 28, when the first round of the 2011 draft will be conducted in New York. He won't be happy if he has to wait to hear his named called April 29, when teams select players in the second and third rounds.
"I've got to be drafted higher than Maurkice, 18th or better," he said with a grin at the NFL scouting combine in February. "(Otherwise), I'd never hear the end of it."
However, Pouncey might have to suffer the indignity — at least to him — of actually going 19th this year to the New York Giants, according to a longtime draft observer.
"I don't think Mike Pouncey has the skill level of his brother. But I think the versatility he brings as that guard-center would help the Giants offensive line," ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. said.
New York rotated veterans Shaun O'Hara, Adam Koets and Rich Seubert into the middle of their line in 2010. O'Hara is battling lingering Achilles tendon problems this offseason, Koets tore an anterior cruciate ligament in November and Seubert suffered patella, ligament and tendon damage in the regular-season finale. Seubert's availability for the 2011 season is in question as he rehabilitates on his own during the lockout.
Giants general manager Jerry Reese acknowledged at the combine that the team needed offensive line help but played his cards close to the vest.
"(We've had) a couple pretty catastrophic injuries at that position (center)," he said. "We're always looking to improve every position."
Kiper shared skepticism about Mike Pouncey's prospects as an NFL center, but he still could be a potential replacement for Seubert, the Giants starting left guard before he was forced to take over for O'Hara and Koets late in the season.
"There's a debate within NFL circles: Is he a guard? Is he a center?" Kiper said of Pouncey. "But that versatility certainly would help the Giants.
"Mike's not as good as Maurkice was, but he's close enough to warrant first-round consideration."
Mike Pouncey got a different assessment at the combine from NFL personnel men.
"They basically said we look the same on film; some of the teams even said I look better," he said, citing what he deemed his superior open-field blocking before snapping off one final tidbit in a good-natured sibling rivalry.
"There's a lot I do better off the field. We'll discuss that some other time."
But the on-field comparisons could continue to be a dilemma for Mike Pouncey.
"It's a curse, because you don't often get a rookie at the center position who's going to be an all-pro and a Pro Bowl player. That's a curse when people think that's going to happen," NFL Network analyst Charles Davis said.
"But it's a gift because he is a Pouncey. We talk so much about bloodlines. How about this bloodline? And remember, he can play three positions. …
"I think this guy is a tremendous player, and I think ultimately it's a gift for him."
Mike Pouncey acknowledges that an NFL club is "not going to draft me because (Maurkice) played good," but he's driven to provide a level of play at least identical to his twin's.
"We're fierce competitors, obviously. Everything he accomplished, I want to do the same thing and even better."
Perhaps no outcome could be better for Mike Pouncey than landing with Pittsburgh, which has a hole at right guard but might have to trade up from the No. 31 slot to get him — if not appease his desire to be picked higher than Maurkice was.
"It would be nice. I'm not hoping for anything, because when you hope for stuff it never happens," said Mike Pouncey, who hung around the Steelers at Super Bowl XLV when several players coyly suggested he suit up for Maurkice, who missed the game after breaking his ankle in the AFC Championship Game.
"We talked about the chances (of playing together), but it's not looking too good. But there's free agency in the NFL, so you never know."