Eddy Piñeiro took an unconventional path to the NFL

Before the Piñeiros could finish the drive from Tuscaloosa back to Miami, Eddy Jr.’s phone started ringing. Eddy Sr. saw a 352 area code number pop up on the phone, and was surprised when the voice on the other end was Florida head Coach Jim McElwain, who invited Eddy Jr. to kick in Gainesville the next day on the drive back to Miami.

Just one day removed from kicking at Alabama’s camp, Piñeiro sailed a strong kickoff in front of Florida coaches, and the Gators offered him soon after. Eddy Sr. said the weekend was “like a fairytale.”

A video of Eddy Jr. Landing kickoffs and making practice field goals from 20-71 yards out gained traction on YouTube that summer, and he gained attention on Twitter for posting more long-range connections – including a 77-yard attempt – throughout his recruitment. Rated 247Sports’ top-rated JUCO kicking prospect in the 2016 class, Piñeiro received offers from Alabama, Florida, Georgia, and Miami before signing with the Gators.

But he didn’t accept any offers before his father asked some essential questions.

“Everybody started offering scholarships, and that’s when I said, ‘Listen, what is a full ride? Do you pay for books, do you pay for his food?'” Eddy Sr said. “Obviously, we didn’t know anything about that. They go, ‘On a full ride in football, he gets his books, his tuition, his food, his dorm.’ That’s when I said, ‘OK, obviously you can change from soccer to football.'”

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