At press time, Harbaugh had sent Michigan’s athletic department an envelope containing a heavily annotated seating chart, a list of the 63,000 seat views he had found unsatisfactory, and a glowing 70-page report on section 25, row 12, seat 9, which he claimed is “exactly what the great sport of football is all about.”
Yes, yes, it's yet another four star recruit from a high powered program with extracurricular reasons to expect he'll be a success who picked Michigan over another power program. This is Michigan, fergodsakes.
In Henry Poggi's case, the high school is Baltimore private school Gilman, a powerhouse that sent two other prospects to BCS schools last year (QB Shane Cockerville went to Maryland, LB Micah Kiser to Virginia), four the year before, two the year before that, etc. etc. The extracurricular reasons are dual: 1) his father is the head coach at Gilman, and 2) he really likes the Big Lebowski. The power program bested was Alabama, which liked him enough to take a run at him right before Signing Day.
As you might expect from a coach's son, Poggi popped up early as a technically and physically advanced player. As a junior, various folks projected him to be a top, top player. Rivals had several different reports on him then. An example:
Poggi will be one of the top interior linemen in the country next season. He has size (6-4, 255) and quickness to go along with terrific athleticism, solid speed and soft hands (he made two nice grabs on Saturday). …more than held his own down in the trenches and was very effective in run support.
Other evaluations follow in the same vein, with a focus on technique, physicality, and effort. IE, Poggi has all those coaches' kid qualities you'd expect. Foremost is stamina. A two-way starter for Gilman the last two years, Poggi impressed with his fortitude:
What's most impressive about Poggi, however, is his ability to maintain his fundamentals and play through the whistle for all 48 minutes. He starts both ways for Gilman but has the stamina and desire to scrap like his job depends on it. Physically, Poggi keeps his pads low and uses his legs to generate power. He has a stiff, dead-arm punch and impeccable strength, which allows him to overwhelm inside tackles at times.
"Henry was awesome," he said. "He started both ways at tight end and defensive tackle. I don't know how he played as hard as he did. He was really impressive and did a really great job in the playoffs. He played every play running around and was exhausted by the end of the game, it's a tribute to his character, his motor is ridiculous."
“There’s defensive tackles across the country that either have a lot of heart or a lot of talent. Henry’s got both,” Shurburtt said. “[He is] the complete package of what you look for in a defensive tackle.
“He’s definitely an inside guy. That’s what gives him plus athleticism.”
Scout's Brian Dohn said Poggi has a chance to be "a star grunt" in a scouting report, which makes sense despite being paradoxical. Overall the picture painted is of a guy right up Brady Hoke's alley:
What to like
In watching Poggi in person and watching lots of junior tape, a few things jump out. Mainly, he is physical. He is also physical, and when he is not playing physical, he is playing physical.
Poggi is engaged on every play, loves the contact and has the strength to make an impact on every play.
He lines up in the middle of the defensive line, and is a disruption no matter how opponents try to block him. Poggi is always moving, always looking for the ball and plays violently (in a good way). He has the body type, strength and mentality to be a classic nose guard who can handle getting hit from all angles and still be a factor because of very good balance. …
What needs works
…time and again Poggi has to rely on his strength and there are few times he gets off the line of scrimmage and gets into the backfield untouched. That is all about staying lower and maximizing his burst.
Dohn actually hits that note about playing him at the nose more than once, but it seem doubtful he'll end up the requisite size, about which more later.
Poggi was not one of the huge standouts at the UA game but did impress 247:
5. Henry Poggi, DT, Baltimore (Md.) Gillman
The 6-foot-3, 260-pound Michigan commitment lined up over the ball on Tuesday, and proved to be too quick and technically sound to be blocked one-on-one. Poggi not only flashed a quick first step, but also got small and used his hands to near perfection quickly dismissing would be blocking centers.
. … flashes a good initial burst, but is inconsistent and can be a beat slow. He does need to watch his pad level, but displays the ability to fire off the ball low and gain leverage. He is a hard-nosed player who can make good contact and be tough at the point of attack. He is active with his hands, but needs to do a better job of consistently separating from blockers. … He is a physical and high-effort player who works to get around the ball. As a pass rusher, he comes upfield hard. He will try to attack half-a-man and displays the ability to be violent with his hands. He gives effort and will make opponents work to block him, but can be a bit out of control at times. He is adequately able to quickly and tightly bend back in towards the quarterback.
They like his potential, overall but think he's more of an effort guy than a big timer, and that's reflected in their rankings for him.
There's some debate about Poggi's frame. 6'4" and heading towards 300 pounds seems pretty good to me, but ESPN's relative skepticism is largely based on a lack of upside because they perceive him as a tweener:
He possesses good height, but is a bit of a 'tweener size-wise as a defensive lineman. … While Poggi looks to carry his weight well, he may be somewhat limited in the good size he can add, making him an undersized D-tackle or more of a swing player if he stays on defense at the next level. Poggi is a tough and smart player. While he may have some limitations, he is a good football player who can help a team and be a good productive player if he can find the right position fit.
Their evaluation in fact mentions four different spots—DT, OC, FB, TE—as possibilities. A quadruple tween. A 247 evaluation from Poggi's UA game appearance has a similar concern:
The 6-foot-3, 260-pound Poggi has lineup over the ball in one-on-ones, and been very tough to block due to a quick first step, active and quick hands, a strong initial punch and the awareness to get small. While all of that ability is not in question with Poggi, his ability to carry the desired weight remains in play. While he can certainly carry 20-25 more pounds on his frame, there is a question of if he can carry the ideal weight to play over the ball at the next level.
This is a bit of a different take than early evaluations had. For instance:
At 6-4, 255, Poggi has a great frame; he's a tall, thick defender with a wide base, stout legs and broad shoulders. He plays with a low pad level, which makes him difficult to move off the ball. He also has tremendous upper- and lower-body strength, allowing him to collapse the pocket and toss offensive linemen around like a dog with a chew toy.
At 6-4, 255, he has a powerful base, long arms, broad shoulders and ideal height. … If Poggi continues to add power and build his body he'll be one of the top D-tackle recruits coming out next season.
To me that signals a guy who started being a college player early and may be closer to his physical peak than most others in his class. Think Marvin Robinson. When you're Jabrill Peppers this is just fine. When you're 270 and you already have a neck wider than your head…
…I get the concern.
So Poggi is likely to end up a three-tech, which is part of the reason I projected Hurst to nose tackle. Yeah, I am also tantalized by potentially sticking Hurst at the three but in the context of the roster it makes more sense for Poggi to end up there. FWIW, Poggi told the Baltimore Sun that Michigan would start him off at the five and move him inside when he put on enough weight, causing JC Shurburtt to shake his head:
"Maybe I’m wrong, but I just don’t think long term that [playing DE is] realistic if he wants to play beyond college and be very good,” Shurburtt said. “If he were a 3-4 defensive end we were talking about, I think he’d be in business. But I think 4-3, that’s a stretch.”
To me, those spots are near interchangeable and there's no reason to get in a huff about who's playing where at either of them, but that is a useful take on how Poggi can be an effective college player.
There is also a backup plan. Though all the sites rated Poggi as a defensive tackle, a number of evaluations paused to praise his potential as a blocking tight end. Tim Sullivan:
… Poggi showed a tenacity and quickness in his blocking that truly impressed. He wasn't perfect in the blocking game, but was very good. In fact, he could probably add weight and play guard if that's what a team needed of him (and that's where some schools, including Alabama, were recruiting him).
Offensively, … where he really excelled is as a run blocker. Poggi did a great job stalemating his man at the point of attack before driving him off the ball. He showed the ability to chip, gain leverage and readjust to quick edge rushers. Right now, the only question is how much bulk he can pack onto his frame and what position he'll fit best at.
ESPN flat out suggests he'll be better on offense:
… overall skill set may be better suited as a blocking tight end and we wouldn't be surprised if he landed on offense at the next level at some point.
Michigan didn't bring in an AJ Williams type in Poggi's class and they won't in the next one; there is a large window for a second 270-280 pound face-masher on the roster, especially if Wyatt Shallman ends up moving to defense at some point.
Why Will Johnson or Ryan Van Bergen? Tough to choose between the two as far as how he'll end up, so let's go with both.
Will Johnson was listed at 6'4", 285 pounds by Rivals when he was a recruit and 6'5", 285 pounds by Michigan when he was a senior. While Poggi figures to add some weight from his listed 260-270, he probably won't exceed 285 by much.
Meanwhile, Johnson was a solid player as an upperclassman who was mostly a stubborn run defender. He had good technique, but his mgoblog career summary is basically this:
Johnson did okay against a wide array of double teams but not great.
Johnson was a low four star recruit to the contemporary services as well.
Ryan Van Bergen is another good comparable in size and recruiting ranking. He is the upside here as a tireless worker with some pass rush ability and fantastic balance. Poggi's endurance and high-effort playstyle are right out of the RVB playbook. Also, Poggi's hair is a virtual replica.
Guru Reliability: Moderate. Conflict between early evals and late, few camps, but high profile school and UA appearance.
Variance: Low. Good, not great size, advanced for his age, doesn't seem to have huge upside.
Ceiling: Moderate. If you ask me I'd invert Hurst and Poggi's average rating. Disclaimer: I'm just this guy on the internet. Poggi should be a contributor, but right after watching Hurst's film my main takeaway was that Poggi lacked that dynamite first step.
General Excitement Level: Moderate. Poggi should be a solid contributor for a while.
Projection: Redshirt unless he comes in at 285 or something, which doesn't seem likely. After that will attempt to break into the three- or five-tech two-deep, with the former more likely. Three tech is actually pretty open depending on who slots where: other than Poggi it's Wormley and guys who may or may not play there: Matt Godin, Willie Henry, Maurice Hurst.
Poggi is likely to be a rotation three-tech at some point, but it's hard to predict when with the uncertainty at the spot. Ideally it wouldn't be in year two. It may be. Eventually starting may be in the cards depending on how well his compatriots work out—call it 50/50.
If Poggi doesn't end up in the two-deep at three-tech he's got a second shot as a blocking TE.
General Excitement Level: Moderate. Poggi should be a solid contributor for a while
Huh. Considerably less enthusiastic than I am.
"the Spirit of Michigan...is based on a deathless loyalty to Michigan and all her ways....and a conviction that nowhere is there a better university, in any way, than this Michigan of ours" - Fielding Yost
Seriously. Until Derrick Green, Poggi was the most regarded guy in this class with the best offer list as well. Alabama drooled over him until signing day. Saying he's RVB tops is just not right. He has more potential than any 3-tech on our roster at present.
kind of reminds me of Craig Roh's where you know he's good but just can't find that right spot for his size and talent. Granted, we now have a way better DC but can see where he's an octagon trying to fit into a round hole....almost there but not quite
When Poggi was being recruited he was the second coming. I don't have the proper analogy, but this review makes him sound ho-hum. What happened? He still looks skinny to me. A country-strong guy with a 4.7 40 and a high motor. I'm still expecting big things. underrated is o.k.
I get the concerns about size. With that said, I think that a lot of the "meh" in this update is because we've gotten a bit spoiled. With Pipkins et al having come in with mad hype, and our general solidification of the line, what it takes to move the meter has risen significantly.
When a guy like Poggi potentially is our "depth," I'm okay with that. This does not mean, however, that I'm not hopeful that he becomes an OL nightmare at 3-Tech or is able to put on the lbs to become an amazing NT.
Honestly, with the ability this staff has shown to mold D-linemen (Heininger was a good starter and Quinton Washington is a potential All-B1G guy... think about that), I'm starting to care less and less about the D-line recruits we're bringing in. So long as we have enough of them and they have the requisite physical tools, I'm happy. I mean, I could picture a scenario where Ondre Pipkins never emerges as a major contributer, and I think that would end up just fine because it would mean some other guy (or guys) soaked up the technique work better than him, and that put the other guy over the top. I think it's right to not get too excited about any given member of our DL classes, and that's not a bad thing.
That having been said, I think Poggi has as good a shot to end up as a great starter as anyone else we've brought in. He might not have the frame to top out at the perfect DT size, but his attitude and style seem right up Hoke's wheelhouse, and I wouldn't be shocked to see the coaches take a liking to him immediately.
You know Magnus... That with all your usual wisdom, I think you gaffed here by bringing up Messner in a negative narrative. Messner was a star and that is the bigger significance when his name appears here.
Highly rated guy, pursued heavily by Alabama...and we're not sure if he's very good? Not a critique on our write up. I'm just confused about the disparity between rankings/offers and everyone suggesting he might be just 'ok'
I mean, Michigan, Alabama, Notre Dame, Stanford and Ohio State probably didn't all say "YES! The perfect backup DT! Must have". I have faith in Stanford's ability to recruit hulking white guys
Alabama's capable of making mistakes, too. Just because they went hard after him doesn't mean he's guaranteed to be a superstar.
I think what Brian is saying - and I sense it, too - is that he's the type of player who will probably be pretty solid sooner or later, but he's not the type of athlete who will be a superstar. Obviously, Ryan Van Bergen turned into a pretty good player at Michigan, but Brian's not comparing these guys as recruits - he's comparing them as Van Bergen's final product vs. Poggi's potential final product.
There aren't many guys who turn into Mike Martins and Alan Branches. The majority of guys who play defensive tackle at Michigan are solid players (Will Johnson, Terrance Taylor, Van Bergen, Will Campbell, Rob Renes, Josh Williams, etc.) who don't light the world on fire. In the last 25 years, Michigan hasn't produced the type of DT who terrifies the NCAA and destroys the NFL in the way that Warren Sapp, Albert Haynesworth, Ndamukong Suh, etc. have. Whether it's recruiting or coaching or whatever, studly performances from Michigan defensive tackles are pretty rare.
EDIT: This is a response to both you and MidnightBlue.
We really don't care how MI DTs do at the NFL level, do we? I mean if it persuades a future recruit somewhere down the line, that's great, but all we're seriously interested in is how they're going to do at the BIG level, and we've had our share, although I'll be the first to agree it doesn't measure up to other positions we expect consistent perfection from. But take a Mark Messner, who at the time he did it, was only the second player in conference history, not just M history to be AA three straight years. You make no mention of Hammerstein who lit up the league for years. Had the best "lazy" swim move I've seen here in basically ever. Parris was a monster as well. Mention of Renes is rather odd because he was an AA and what more can we ask. Before him, we had Teeter who became the strongest man in the NFL. Does it really matter to you, or to the majority of fans in general, what becomes of them in the NFL? I personally don't think so. We're concerned with what they're going to do on the Michigan team for roughly 50 games. And the contingent coming in was a lot higher rated than those before them. ^And to me, this is where it gets scary. Bo met Messner at the airport when he returned from his UCLA visit and told him, "Hoped you enjoyed your trip to California. Now get ready to play football for Michigan." Knowing what makes a great player is just as important as adding up all the stars accompanying the names. ^ I cannot argue with what you say about a Sapp, Suh, etc., because their athleticism is phenomanol and something we seldom see. Branch is the closest I can think of in recent years, and he didn't dominate the NFL like these two have. However, we cannot discount just how much we've gotten out of our players at the collegiate level. As Tex Schramm, the ex Dallas GM said, "Damn, Michigan players must be the best coached in the world because they just can't measure up to what we see when we get them all together." Now if Greg and Brady can pull that same muscle-it's called the heart- out of much higher rated players, I'm predicting it will be BIG FUN in the Big House for the foreseeable future.
I certainly think NFL success or at least draft position can have an effect on recruiting. Players today don't know who Messner and Hammerstein are. As I mentioned elsewhere in this thread, you're talking about guys who played college ball 25 years ago. If you're 30 years old (born in 1983), that would be the equivalent of talking about a guy who played in about 1975.
It is more important how a player plays at Michigan than how they play in the NFL. If for instance Denard can't make the transition, it will not take away my memories of the UTL game. That said, I enjoy rooting for Michigan players in the NFL. It is another metric we can be proud of. When Harbaugh, Grbac, Brady, Greise, and Collins were all in the league I was proud of that. ...and it does help give the program visibility and land big recruits in the future.
While recruits today don't know who Messner is, the Michigan fan base does and the analogy is apt. (Hopefully the recruits aren't on Mgoblog all day.) It's also cool to have sucessful guys like Gerald Ford, David Brandon and even Les Miles play on the team.
RVB became very good as part of a two-man team with Mike Martin. They were seasoned enough, good enough and smart enough to earn the right to call their own stunts on the line. I think Poggi has that potential, to be a great leader on a very deep Defensive Line and is smart enough to be trusted to call plays like RVB and MM were.
Yet Alabama pursued him until the end at DL. How this caliber recruit compares with Van Bergen and Johnson is curious. Brian your unenthusiastic writeup holds the same enthusiasm and err in its way as your "We are Notre Dame" Hoke writeup.
I see all three of these guys as being very similar, and I think that's just fine. I also think with the current coaching, Poggi and Godin will reach senior Van Bergen much earlier in their careers (redshirt sophomore year?). I'll take a senior Van Bergen level talent at 3T and another at 5T happily.
I agree he looks like a high floor, medium ceiling kind of guy. It's great to have players like this mixed in with boom/bust guys like Charlton (don't see him busting) and Hurst.
To put it in the context of this site, I think Poggi is the kind of player the UFR is going to love. He maybe wont be the flashiest player on the line, but at the end of the day he is going to do all the right things to make plays. In that regard, the RVB comparison makes perfect sense.