2013 Recruiting: Patrick Kugler Comment Count

Brian June 11th, 2013 at 12:23 PM

Previously: CB Reon Dawson, CB Channing Stribling, S Delano Hill, S Dymonte Thomas, CB Ross Douglas, CB Jourdan Lewis, LB Ben Gedeon, LB Mike McCray, DE Taco Charlton, DT Maurice Hurst Jr., DT Henry Poggi.

   
Wexford, PA – 6'4", 280
     

314947[1]

Scout

5*, #27 overall
#1 OG

Rivals

4*, #82 overall
#6 OG, #5 PA

ESPN

4*, #101 overall
#3 OG, #5 PA

24/7

4*, #97 overall
#2 OC, #5 PA

Other Suitors

Notre Dame, Florida, FSU, Miami, PSU, Stanford, MSU

YMRMFSPA

David Baas

Previously On MGoBlog Hello post from Ace.
Notes Father was Steelers' OL coach, now HC at UTEP. You guys.

Film

Junior highlights (he is the left tackle or a DT):

Hudl page.

Offensive linemen are notoriously the hardest players to project. Enormous long-armed bodies might not be able to "bend" and end up at Western Michigan. 240-pound tight ends might balloon into the top pick in the NFL draft despite playing at Central Michigan. Relying on sleepers and development has been good enough to send Wisconsin to the last three Rose Bowls. Etc. There is no such thing as a sure thing on the offensive line.

But if there is, Patrick Kugler is it. Let us describe the ways:

  • SIZE: at 6'4", 280-ish as a freshman Kugler will easily approach the 300-pound range that NFL centers usually are.
  • PEDIGREE: his dad was the frigging Steelers' OL coach, and he was so good at that UTEP hired him to be their head coach. His older brother plays center at Purdue.
  • TOUGHNESS: played through a torn labrum to participate in a high school all-star game.
  • TECHNIQUE: no doubt because of his pedigree, folks say he was "easily the most technically sound offensive lineman" at said high school all star game in which he played despite having a torn labrum.

I mean. Seriously. You guys($).

Sam Webb: … if you’re a scout in the stands, and you’re watching Patrick Kugler on the field, what do you see?

Patrick Kugler: “I would just say mean. I mean, people who I go against don’t like me very much. I try to be the meanest guy out there. My dad taught me that. Just, if anything, be mean. I just try to be mean all the time, and if you’re pounding them into the ground, they just don’t want to get back up. That’s my goal.”

Sam Webb: Have you ever been on the field against someone and done something to them, and said ‘oh man, I feel bad about that’.

Patrick Kugler: “One time. This guy, he kicked me the play before, and I just grabbed him by the face mask and ripped it off, but I mean, I felt bad about that afterwards, but at the time it seemed like the right thing to do.”

You guys. His dad's advice:

Asked what words of wisdom his father has shared with him, Pat said: "Be nasty. Don't let up until you hear the whistle."

Pat paused and added more sage advice he's picked up having spent his whole life around football:

"Maybe give 'em a little after the whistle. Kill 'em, basically."

When he committed to Michigan and word came out that he was going to play center that made so much sense to me, and then as this season developed with its missed blocking assignment fiesta I craved the presence of Kugler on campus as quickly as possible.

I'm weird. I love David Molk almost as much as anyone to come through this program not named Denard. I'm weird, but I'm not wrong. In the NFL, centers who can do all the things that make your offense work with their brains are a fungible commodity. In college, they are a treasure. See also: Michigan's with-and-without-Molk YPCs in the Denard era. I'm not wrong. It is only barely hyperbole to call Patrick Kugler the most important recruit in this class.

As you might expect from the son of an offensive line coach, Kugler is an advanced technician and nasty dude. Virtually every scouting report will start off praising his technique and IQ. A sampler:

  • Bob Lichtenfels, Scout: "Kugler is a technician and he is nasty. He finishes his blocks and always plays to the whistle. He has great feet and gets to the second level as well as anyone. Very dominant at the point of attack. … very cerebral and is rarely in bad position. Very good knee bend and deceptively athletic."
  • Allen Trieu, Scout: "great feet and gets into the second level very well. He's a technician and a smart player … bigger and more athletic than most center prospects. You essentially have a kid that could easily play tackle or guard for most schools at center. That is also a position where smarts and knowledge of the game come into play and this kid certainly has it."
  • An opposing coach: “He looks like an NFL guy playing with middle-school kids … You know he's a coach's kid. You can just tell. He's got great technique. He gets off the ball so hard. He does not look like he should run as fast as he does. You see kids that big and they're slow and gawky. But he's got great, great feet. I think he's in a class by himself. He stands alone.”
  • Anonymous Rivals evaluator: "comes off the ball strong with good blocking angles and shows very little hesitation before impact on the defender. He does a good job of lowering his 6-5 frame to get under the smaller high school opponents he faces. … shows that he likes to put defenders into the turf with violence."
  • ESPN's evaluation:

Kugler is not only the son of an O-line coach, but also one tough dude. … not unreasonable to think he can't easily fill out into a 300-pound interior lineman. He is a physical and tenacious run blocker. He does need to watch his pad level at times, but is able to play with good leverage. He does a good job of getting placement with his hands and being able to control defenders. He can deliver a good initial pop, but looks to have much better drive once he is into a defender rather than initial explosion on contact. He is able to create and maintain push with sustained leg drive and looks to bury the defender every play. He displays a good understanding of combo blocks and good pull/trap ability. He moves well in space and can get a hat on active second level defenders. … mixes good ability and heady play with a tenacious style to get the job done.

A lot of these scouting evaluations expect these high school kids to be NFL-level players based on junior high school film, and that's never more true than it is for OL. That's a highly positive evaluation with some minor, obvious issues—"does need to watch his pad level at times" is something you could put in every OL evaluation ever without raising an eyebrow.

Meanwhile, Scout's profile has our favorite Area For Improvement:

STRENGTHS

Feet

Intensity

Nasty Streak

AREAS FOR IMPROVEMENT

Size

Kugler plays both sides of the ball for North Allegheny. He has excellent quickness and feet. He has good flexibility and change of direction which is displayed when playing defensive tackle. Kugler has the athleticism and reach to play tackle with the mentality of an interior lineman. He gets good leverage and push on both sides of the ball. Finishes blocks and easily gets to the second level - Scott Kennedy

I assume that area for improvement is based on the idea Kugler would end up as a tackle, which some of the sites projected him to early. All eventually came around to the idea he would be an interior lineman.

Importantly for a guy projected to center, all of those evaluations emphasize Kugler's ability to get to the second level. If your center can pull—and Kugler will be able to—that opens up additional options in the run game, and if he's good at moving to the second level your inside zone game ramps up its effectiveness. It's a key attribute for a center, and not necessarily one I've seen mentioned much in evaluations of offensive linemen.

"Intensity" is another word that comes up frequently. Tim Sullivan:

Kugler showed outstanding stamina, athleticism and effort while playing both ways, just about the entire night for North Allegheny…. In the second half, Kugler played like a man possessed. His intensity greatly improved and he showed his leadership skills while pushing his teammates to put the game away. He was displayed very good technique and footwork while pass blocking and he showed a very good burst when he was run blocking. Although he is most comfortable when pass blocking, he gets to the second level extremely quickly and looks like he will develop into an excellent run blocker.

 His coach:

“Once the game starts, he changes to a different level of intensity,” Walker said of Kugler. “One of the reasons why he was so focused on schools in the B1G is that he loves to run block. He’s a physical kid, and he wants to put people in the ground. He’s a very aggressive blocker.”

A Brady Hoke kind of guy.

As mentioned, Kugler drew heaps of praise at the UnderArmor game, where he was the headiest, most advanced OL there:

easily the most technically sound offensive lineman in attendance. He adapted well to different pass-rushing moves used against him, knew where to place his hands, and listening to him talk to other offensive linemen and the coaches nearby, his high football IQ was apparent.

He quickly adapted to both interior OL positions, earning a start at guard while simultaneously being named the best center around.

Center

Patrick Kugler, Wexford (Pa.) North Allegheny
The Michigan commitment has manned the toughest position on the line in the all-star setting better than anyone else. Taking into consideration that it’s fast paced, with new install, very little time for connectivity among a line and in a setting that most certainly favors defensive linemen, the 6-foot-4, 275-pounder has been reactive, fundamentally sound and shown excellent lateral quickness.

I mean. You guys.

David Dawson- Dawson and Patrick Kugler might be the two best lineman overall on the white squad. … Patrick Kugler- Kugler was as good as advertised in the first day of practices. Kugler won the majority of his one on one reps and did a good job in the team periods. Kugler had outstanding technique and showed very good lateral quickness. Kugler had a mean streak and was able to move opposing defensive tackles in the run game.

Based on that performance and Kugler's all-around profile, 247 would name him (and David Dawson) to their All-America team, calling him the nation's top center.

Kugler is another opposite-of-character-issue guy what with his dad. (A pattern emerges.) His prep coach confirms:

“He’s a young man that loves the game,” Walker said of Kugler. “He loves to compete. He does a good job of getting himself prepared and taking on leadership responsibilities. He does all the little things off the field to prepare. He’s a student-athlete all the time. He does what he has to do in the classroom, and carries himself well. He’s a good kid to be around, he has the right kind of focus and he’s not taking anything for granted.”

I mean, Kugler told various sites he actively hopes to redshirt, something I have never ever seen. He backed off a hard stance either way a bit later, but the desire is clear:

"I have no idea if they want me to play next year, or not," Kugler stressed. "Personally, I'd love to redshirt and get that fifth year of education, but if the coaches need me to play that would be great. I'm a team guy first, so whatever they need from me is what I'll do."

Kugler further stated he hasn't even looked at the depth chart because "Michigan was the school I fell in love with, so that never mattered to me." As of January he was at 285, with a goal of arriving in the 295-300 range. (Area For Improvement: check.) He was also scheduled for surgery on his labrum. That must have slowed down his workouts, but with a four-month recovery timeline by the time he arrives on campus he will be full-go.

That depth chart is ripe with opportunity, with only Jack Miller and a couple of walk-ons currently competing at center. With the labrum injury and Glasgow showing he can be good depth for the interior spots, a redshirt is still in the cards. After that, it's going to be a war on the interior.

Etc.: Good ESPN profile here. Mom on his visit:

"I saw it in his face," Patsy said. "As a mom, you know your kid so well, and I could just see his face light up with emotion. I could see it starting to happen."

Heartbreak!

“I can't grow facial hair,” Kugler said with great disappointment. “It's bad. I've been growing it a month, and it's barely noticeable.”

Ping pong fiend!

People might be surprised to know that ...? Me and my brother used to play ping-pong the morning before every game. It would be intense ping-pong. We would wake up in the morning and play before school on game days. I don't know why, but we would play at 6:30 or 7 in the morning.

Kugler popped up in a "Spartan Sizzling Seven" at the start of last year's cycle as one of the most likely players to end up at State. That list: Riley Norman (MSU, but for track and field), Jon Reschke (check), Kyle Bosch, Steven Elmer, Patrick Kugler, Ethan Pocic, and Greg Webb. One of seven is… well, it ain't good. Kugler in particular twisted the knife, visiting State a half-dozen times, then hitting Michigan once and abruptly ending his recruitment a day before he was scheduled to go to East Lansing again.

Why David Baas? High school tackle at 6'4" who moved to the inside, starting at guard before moving to center, where he was an Outland finalist, Rimington winner, All-American, and second-round draft pick. Topped out at 310 pounds, which is well within Kugler's range, and was a highly-regarded recruit who hit some high school All-American lists.

Guru Reliability: A shade less than exacting. Healthy, high profile player, All Star game, consensus. They are projecting a position move.

Variance: Low-plus. Only the facts that this is an offensive lineman and that there is a slight position adjustment—albeit one almost every interior lineman makes—hold this down from plain ol' low.

Ceiling: High. It is tough for centers to work their way into the first round of the NFL draft because they're just less rare than 6'8" guys just as agile. He could be a Rimington contender, though.

General Excitement Level: Very high. You guys.

Projection: Nonzero chance he emerges into a starting job in year one. Likely? No. Would I even regard that as a bad sign? Well… yeah probably. But not as much of one as you might think. It would be lovely if they could get a redshirt on Kugler and have Miller in front of him for two more years and get a couple of upperclass years from an eminently prepared guy.

If that does happen, Miller is going to be pretty good. If Miller does stay in front of Kugler, Kugler will likely compete at the guard spot opposite Kalis as a redshirt freshman. That will either be vacant (if Ben Braden wins the job and moves to tackle) or held by Graham Glasgow.

That I can't project this guy to definitely start until he's a redshirt junior says something about the burgeoning depth on the offensive line. Some of these guys will wash out from injury or lack of ability; this is inevitable. But the guys who do work out are going to be high four-star potential sorts who have lived up to it, and the competition to emerge is going to be brutal. That's how you build a kick-ass line.

Comments

74polSKA

June 11th, 2013 at 12:46 PM ^

“One time. This guy, he kicked me the play before, and I just grabbed him by the face mask and ripped it off, but I mean, I felt bad about that afterwards, but at the time it seemed like the right thing to do.”

How could you not love this kid? This must be what they call "mean streak" on the scouting sights, no? So excited for our O-line future.

M-Wolverine

June 11th, 2013 at 2:18 PM ^

It's not popular with the quantifying crowd (and with fair reason), but if you're at practice it is something you can see. The nasty factor. Something I think we've gotten away from, maybe for up to a decade.  I think we've had tough guys, but I think there's been a limit to the nasty ones. (With exceptions- I mean, no one would argue that donkey-hating isn't nasty, if entirely acceptable). The remarkable thing Hoke seems to be doing is finding guys who are nasty on the field (in numbers) and great character guys off it. So you're not becoming Miami to bring that. 

There was a time when guys as good as Bo Jackson would say he never played in a game where they hit harder than when he played Michigan.  Now you're not going to intimidate a Bo, or an OSU, but I'll be glad when these guys mature and we're a team that is making the Minnesotas of the world quit by the 3rd quarter, because they're just tired of having their asses handed to them.

JimBobTressel

June 11th, 2013 at 12:51 PM ^

Shades of Stanford OG David DeCastro? Smart, nasty and refined. Was 1st rounder to his dad's line (Steelers)

Oooh I can't wait for the years when these big OL are starting and competing in practice

LB

June 11th, 2013 at 1:30 PM ^

That was the very thought that went through my head.

Long article. It was 100% worth the read and then came this bonus:

Kugler popped up in a "Spartan Sizzling Seven" at the start of last year's cycle as one of the most likely players to end up at State. That list: Riley Norman (MSU, but for track and field), Jon Reschke (check), Kyle Bosch, Steven Elmer, Patrick Kugler, Ethan Pocic, and Greg Webb. One of seven is… well, it ain't good. Kugler in particular twisted the knife, visiting State a half-dozen times, then hitting Michigan once and abruptly ending his recruitment a day before he was scheduled to go to East Lansing again.

boliver46

June 11th, 2013 at 12:52 PM ^

I'm excited.  Especially excited to see that a guy with this kind of potential with high ceiling might be staved off a while due to the growing depth and quality on the OL.  Hopefully the days of needing freshmen, and/or walk-ons to start on the OL is on the decline and we can build quality depth.

Eastside Maize

June 11th, 2013 at 12:52 PM ^

Although O Lineman almost always redshirt it's still good to hear a top notch recruit saying that he would do whatever is best for the team. Whether that be playing as a true freshman or getting a redshirt.

dragonchild

June 11th, 2013 at 1:21 PM ^

It's ironic to hear it coming from this guy, though.  4-star O-linemen redshirt because they can rely on their size to overwhelm HS competition, so they arrive on campus as raw as a tossed salad.  This guy's dad was a pro O-line coach and it shows, so if any M lineman won't need to redshirt, it's Killer.

maizeonblueaction

June 11th, 2013 at 12:58 PM ^

encouraging too that while in the past we would often start Freshman basically because we had no choice, if Kugler does start, it will be because he's freaking good, and earned it.

maize-blue

June 11th, 2013 at 1:02 PM ^

The future is indeed bright. 4* lineman, two deep. It will be a thing of beauty, but I'm more hoping it's a thing that smashes and destroys everything in it's path.

Space Coyote

June 11th, 2013 at 1:13 PM ^

At first when I read YMRMFSPA I thought I read Antonio Bass, and this caused me much confusion and made my head hurt.

Please make clearer next time that David Baas is not Antonio Bass, thanks in advance.

BiSB

June 11th, 2013 at 1:26 PM ^

in that Spartan Tailgate Sizzling Seven:

In a perfect scenario would the staff take all three of Norman, Elmer and Bosch?

Oh, Sparty.

[EDIT: Good lord, it gets better:

I was thinking just that about each guy- imagine a class of Elmer at LT, Bosch at LG, Riley at RT, Dillard at RG and potentially Kugler as a OC (coaches kid so figuring he would be good there). Toss in Breneman at TE- got to like that!

That's I don't even.]

CLord

June 11th, 2013 at 1:31 PM ^

Excited not only for how he will command the center postion, but by the prospect that his advanced technique and coach's son knowledge will elevate the entire line.  He may almost be like a player-coach out there.

This kid was literally the #1 target/fit for what we needed, and he's up there next to the Greens and Peppers in terms of my excitement level for him.

 

dragonchild

June 11th, 2013 at 1:32 PM ^

"It is tough for centers to work their way into the first round of the NFL draft because they're just less rare than 6'8" guys just as agile."

I always took that as the NFL conceding that the center's mental responsibilities are so demanding that they never really expect him to handle the NT one-on-one.  It's easier to draft a big guard that'll make the center's assignment a non-issue and design your offense around that.  You don't reach on the physical ability of a center because of those mental requirements, and as a result the entire field is populated with "blue-chip" players that are neither expensive to sign nor difficult to replace.

If you DO see a center that can handle an NFL DT without help, you're looking at a no-question #1 draft pick because you can do things that no defense has seen or can prepare for (assuming you're not compromising at guard to keep him).  But that's a very rare sort of freak; does the NFL even have someone like that in our generation??

WolvinLA2

June 11th, 2013 at 2:02 PM ^

See, I don't think Kugler will play that OG spot because either Dawson or Bosch will handle that spot in the event Glasgow can't. Bosch is less college ready than Kugler, but not by a ton and he enrolled early. After a redshirt year, that gap should be small and we're probably better off letting Dawson, Bosch and Glasgow duke it out for that guard spot and have Kugler focus on OC since it's only him and Miller there.

Wolverine 73

June 11th, 2013 at 2:11 PM ^

Cause if he isn't, he is going to be backing up Kugler when Miller is a senior.  Once upon a time, the Rod Payne's and Steve Everitt's held down the C position for four years and brought great stability to the Michigan OL.  I expect Kugler may be another of those.

M-Wolverine

June 11th, 2013 at 2:21 PM ^

And don't expect them to be beasts right off the bat. Rod Payne was completely lost his first year in games like MSU. But he was a young guy starting for the first time. And he turned out pretty alright. I know it feels like we've had to be patient forever, but we're creating some killer lines here....they just take the most time to develop.

WolvinLA2

June 11th, 2013 at 2:32 PM ^

I agree with this. Even the most college ready OL guys aren't really ready as true frosh. You just have to get used to pushing around D1 D-linemen for a while before you're really good at it. Your NFL dad coach can teach you all the technique in th world, but you won't know what it's like getting punched in the mouth by a big ten DT until it happens.

I think it's very likely Kugler is ready as a RS frosh after getting a lot of reps this year in practice, but not before then.

MidnightBlue

June 11th, 2013 at 3:02 PM ^

Brian, I think you need to check the variance on your recruit profiles themselves....  for you seem well over the top on Kugler and Jack Miller,  yet vastly below the norm for Henry Poggi.... 

Perkis-Size Me

June 11th, 2013 at 3:12 PM ^

"There is no such thing as a sure thing on the offensive line. But if there is, it is Patrick Kugler."

Man, I hope this kid gets his redshirt. As good as he is projected to be, you never want a true freshman starting on the offensive line. Take your time, learn the playbook, get in the weight room, stay in there, and don't come out until the 2014 season opener.

But man, I'm excited about him. Just one of the countless wooly mammoth, brutal, physical maulers that Hoke is bringing into the fold. These are the kinds of guys that won't allow Derrick Green to even be touched until he's already 6-7 yards upfield.

But then again, when I heard he was the son of the Pittsburgh Steeler's OL coach, that was all I needed to know to want him.

Wee-Bey Brice

June 11th, 2013 at 3:17 PM ^

I wish all of our recruits visited Sparty (or Ohio, for bonus points) a minimum of 5 times before committing to us. There's something very gratifying about knowing Sparty once had their hopes up about a kid going to UofM. After the Lawrence Marshall fiasco, I realized I just can't get enough of that feeling. Watching them fail really does my heart good.

gwkrlghl

June 11th, 2013 at 6:01 PM ^

has developed a deep affection for Centers in me. Guy who is pretty much listed as about as college ready of a center as you could ever hope for has me excited. I think he's going to be awesome

Nick Sparks

June 11th, 2013 at 6:54 PM ^

Played IM backetball against David Bass - the guy was a freaking monster. I had no chance of stopping him from doing whatever he wanted in the paint (I really didn't try too hard for fear of one of his body parts accidentally hitting me and sending me into a coma).

The only person I've ever seen up close close who was bigger was Jake mf-ing Long walking to class one day - the trees is the Diag never looked smaller.

WolvinLA2

June 12th, 2013 at 1:13 AM ^

One of my good friends dated Adam Kraus's sister in college, and he and Jake would hang out at our house all the time and smoke the hookah on our porch. One time Jake sat in one of our stackable plastic porch chairs and it was like someone standing on a beer can - held for about a second then disappeared into the ground.

Mich1993

June 11th, 2013 at 8:15 PM ^

My read on our centers is that Miller is going to be just fine.  I think by the end of this year, Miller will be showing well in the UFRs and noone will be worried about who will play center in 2014.  Given that Miller and most likely Glasgow would be at least 'ok' at center (Burzynski might be ok too), I don't see any way that Kugler plays this year.

In 2014 Kugler will likely push Miller, but I'm guessing Miller will be the starter at least at the beginning of the year.  He'll have started for a year and have an extra year in the system.  Plus, success at center is less about being a super athlete and more about technique, knowing who to block and getting the line calls right.  I can see Kugler getting a shot at playing guard if he doesn't win the center job.

By 2015, we'll have two very good centers, and I can see Kugler being just too good to not be on the field.