New Gators kicker Eddy Pineiro making progress in spring

Eddy Pineiro has never kicked a field goal in a game, but he’s considered the clear front-runner to be Florida’s starting kicker this upcoming season.

Eddy Pineiro (Photo from 247 Sports)

Eddy Pineiro (Photo from 247 Sports)

That could be a problem.

But the Gators are doing everything they can to avoid any issues that could surface due to Pineiro’s lack of experience on the football field. Florida has been working on Pineiro’s timing when it comes to in-game situations with the snap, hold and kick.

“The thing I’ve been happy with is the operation times have come down,” coach Jim McElwain said Monday. “(Pineiro) is starting to move on the ball a little quicker. It’s great to see the ball really get up as quick as it does off his foot.”

Florida has also made sure to keep Pineiro on his toes, calling on the Miami native to kick at unexpected times during practice similar to a game.

“We’re putting him in situations every day where he doesn’t quite know when it’s going to happen. So he’s understanding that you kind of have to be ready throughout the practice just like a game,” McElwain said. “You never know when those kicks are going to come.”

Pineiro’s progress is critical, as he’s expected to bring immediate improvement to the Gators’ kicking game. Florida struggled to make field goals last season, making just 9 of 20 field goal attempts.

Pineiro, a redshirt sophomore, was the top-rated JUCO kicker in the 2016 class and viral videos like the one of him making a 77-yard practice field goal turned him into a star recruit.

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