JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Michael Pinckney went to Miami with an opportunity.
He wound up starting all four seasons with the Hurricanes and became one of the most familiar faces on the Miami defense each of those years.
Next goal for Pinckney, a Raines High product: the NFL.
He and four other players with area ties could hear their names called during next week’s NFL draft, which runs Thursday-Saturday and will be held virtually for the first time.
Pinckney’s Miami teammates Shaq Quarterman and Deejay Dallas are likely to be drafted. So, too, are a pair of former Gateway Conference players, Raines grad and former Georgia offensive guard, Solomon Kindley and Auburn cornerback Javarius Davis (White).
Pinckney said the heavy local presence is an amazing sight since he knows every one of those draft prospects well. He and Kindley played together at Raines and were on the Vikings squad that finished state runner-up in 2015. Davis and the Commanders were one of the best teams in the area during Pinckney’s time in high school.
“It’s a blessing, you know, seeing so many guys from something that you know,” he said. “You know where they came from. You know what they went through. And to be able to see them guys go on and live out their dreams and do the things that we set out to do and talked about when we were kids, it's a good feeling.”
Pinckney said the pre-draft process has obviously been challenging due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the restrictions that it has placed on NFL teams during this time. His situation is compounded by the fact that Pinckney underwent surgery to repair a torn labrum in his hip that affected his performance entering the busy draft season.
“The draft [process] itself, it's been it's been up and down, man,” he said. “You know you hear different things from guys, I feel like we’re going to narrow it down in the next week or so, how much teams are showing interest. … So, you've been getting a bunch of FaceTime calls, bunch of cell phone calls, guys asking you different questions, quizzing you. I got a lot of teams showing interest, and right now they really want to know how my recovery process is coming.”
Pinckney (5-11, 235 pounds) said that his ideal recovery time following his March surgery was to be healthy enough to be back on the field in the early part of fall.
Pinckney finished his Hurricanes career with 267 tackles, 14.5 sacks, 12 passes defensed and three interceptions. He was a second team All-ACC selection last year. Pinckney was a solid recruit coming out of high school, but became a far better college player than perhaps the expectations that accompanied him to Coral Gables.
“I knew I had an opportunity,” he said. “You know, the coaching staff changed [from Mark Richt to Manny Diaz], everybody’s going to really be on the same level for being able to start. “The first couple years, I didn’t think, I never thought of that [being a four-year starter], you know. I just wanted to really contribute to the team and it just played out in my favor.”