Elkton (Md.) Christian Academy defensive tackle Kenny Bigelow leads the preseason East 100 for the…
Pat Kugler, N. Allegheny vs Gateway (w/video)
"It was definitely the best team I've ever played," Kugler told GoBlueWolverine. "In the interior defensive line they average 350, so they were big but they could also move. And then their defensive ends were real fast too, so it was definitely my most difficult challenge yet for my career. Had some good ones, had some bad ones I can improve on, but overall I thought we played very well as a team."
"By far this is the hardest team I've ever played cause they were big and fast and you usually don't get both in high school; so it was a great challenge," added Kugler. "I'm glad I got to see it and we won so that's a good thing."
At 6-4 and 270 pounds Kugler has the versatility to play one of any five positions along the offensive line, something that should bode well for early playing time in Ann Arbor. For good measure he double-dipped as a space eating menace along the defensive line as well.
"It gets real tiring," admitted Kugler regarding playing both ways, "but in the second half they took me out a lot more on defense just to keep me fresh on offense. I thought that really helped me improve our game and move the ball better in the second half. I played a lot of defense but my main goal is on offense."
As the son of Pittsburgh Steelers offensive line coach Sean Kugler, the future Wolverine has a distinct advantage in coaching and advice over most high school football players.
"Its definitely nice," said Kugler. "I got the opportunity to work with the offensive line. I got to talk to them on a one on one basis and it was really nice. All they all said was play the toughest out there. Be the meanest guy out there. And I just got to take that to heart and do it every game."
"It definitely helps having Maurkice Pouncey, one of the greatest centers in the game," added Kugler. "Willie Colon, probably the most bad ass player in the game. And then my dad who's very knowledgeable about football. So I mean I definitely have a bonus and upside on a lot of kids."
That upside was noticed early and often by college coaches all across the country, as Kugler fielded offers from some of the nations best football programs. Despite the proverbial blitz of scholarships and opportunities, he felt most at home with the Wolverines and quickly informed the Michigan coaches he'd wear the Winged Helmet.
"When I went up there actually Coach Hoke wasn't even there," said Kugler. "I wasn't planning on committing but as soon as I walked through that tunnel and came through and knew that I could play in front of 110,000… and they put on the huge jumbo-tron, put on everything."
"And Coach Funk is a great guy," added Kugler. "I think he's a great offensive line coach and I couldn't get any better in the country. So I figured I might as well commit on the spot, not let someone else take it."
It proved timely for Kugler to jump at the Michigan's offer with offensive line spots filling up as quickly as any position. Now a quintet, the future Wolverine linemen manage to stay in contact as much as possible.
"My main focus is on NA," said Kugler. "I love Michigan, but right now it's all about NA. But I'll talk to Kyle Bosch a lot. I talk to him probably once or twice a week and then I'll talk to David Dawson every now and then and a couple of the other ones. But mainly I'm focused on high school right now."
North Allegheny returns home this Friday night for yet another challenging match-up as 5-1 Central Catholic high school comes to town looking to spoil the Tiger's perfect season.
"Our goal is state," said Kugler. "If we don't get state it's a failure. And we have the talent obviously. We just played the best team in the state and beat them so we have the opportunity. And as an offensive line we all take on the leadership role for the team cause we're the big guys. We got to do that.
To watch the full video interview with Kugler, including him in action Friday night, click play below.
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