February 25, 2012

Kugler makes thirteen for '13

Michigan's offensive line haul in the 2013 class - already boasting four players in the initial Rivals250, two of whom are top-100 prospects - got even stronger this morning. Wexford (Pa.) North Allegheny offensive lineman Patrick Kugler became the fifth and likely final piece of Michigan's offensive line group in the 2013 recruiting class, and the thirteenth commitment overall.

The commitment comes after a weekend visit to Ann Arbor. Although Kugler had initially planned on attending Michigan State's Saturday junior day, that's off the table now that he's a Wolverine.

"I visited with Coach Funk and Coach Borges for a long time," he said of his time in Ann Arbor. "I loved both of those guys. Then we went up into the Big House, and that's what really sold me. Just seeing how big it is, and thinking about what it will be like to play in front of 108,000 or 110,000 fans, that sold me on Michigan."

Both coaches were giving a recruting pitch that consists of a familiar refrain to fans during the Brady Hoke era: "This is Michigan." Of course, the statement is intended not only to inform listeners which school is in question, but also what that school stands for.

"They were saying 'It's Michigan,' and that we hold ourselves to a higher standard both on and off the field," Kugler explained. "We'll perform in both of those places. We'll contend for championships and also have success in the classroom."

Success in the classroom was particularly attractive to Kugler. Although he's a top football player, it's not just about the on-field product in Ann Arbor. He knows that the education of the world's No. 14 university by U.S. News.

"I want to compete, and that's a big part of why I chose Michigan," Kugler said. "After I graduate, I want to have the education that will allow me to be successful in life. I can get all of that at Michigan."

Kugler's performance in the classroom was certainly attractive to Michigan's coaches, but his skills on the field are why he's being recruited to man the line for Team 134. At 6-5, 285 pounds, he's expecting to play on the interior of the line at the next level. Guard and center are both possibilities, but wherever he lines up, he'll bring a mean streak to the field.

"If I could describe it, I would say I'm very mean," he laughed. "I'm not going to let anyone get to me, and I don't want anybody to beat me. I want to knock the guy down on every play, whether it's a run or a pass. I'm definitely more of a run blocker right now, so I need to improve my pass blocking. I also would say I need to get more patient. That's something that people don't realize is an important part of being an offensive lineman."

Knowing he has improvements to make is the first step in becoming a better player for Kugler. Making those corrections to his game is next in line. Fortunately, he has a resource available that very few high schoolers in the nation can claim.

Patrick's father, Sean Kugler, is the offensive line coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Growing up not only as the son of an NFL coach, but one that specializes in his position, has been a huge benefit growing up.

"Definitely my dad helps me out," he said. "He has never force-taught me or anything, but whenever I'm looking to improve, I can ask for help and he'll give words of advice."

Michigan headman Brady Hoke is out of town today, so Kugler didn't get to break the good news in person. However, he's planning to give Hoke a call later tonight and let him know that the Wolverines just got even stronger up front.

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