Patrick Kugler, listed as 6'5, 280ish, committed to Michigan this past weekend, during an unofficial visit on campus. Although Brady Hoke wasn't there, and Kugler hadn't seemed to be heavily considering the maize and blue highly before hand, the presence of Coach Funk and others was enough to convince him that it was time to drop for Michigan, and avoid Sparty's subsequent Junior Day. On a side note, this is one of the most spectacular pieces of Sparty Schadenfreude I've ever seen. Kugler, a top 100 OL prospect, had Sparty thinking they were in good position to land his services, even going as far as expecting a commitment this Sunday. Their biggest obstacle, it seemed, would be Notre Dame or Pitt, maybe PSU. Instead, he visits a short-handed Michigan staff coming off their biggest recruiting weekend in record school history, probably sees a few autographed pictures of Brady Hoke pointing at stuff, and poof. The dream OL class expands.
As I suggested in the first paragraph, this is really a commit that came out of nowhere. This rundown from a Pitt blog gave a fairly thorough preview of the landscape, earlier this month.
The Kugler family is pretty nomadic and unlike a true local prospect, Kugler hasn't had a ton of time in the area to form an attachment to the area. Further, in what will seemingly be a common trend in these posts, Urban Meyer is already all over him. Meyer just finished 2012 on a recruiting tear and should be taken very seriously in 2013. Aside from Meyer at Ohio State, the next team I'd be most worried about is Boise State. Sean Kugler did a stint on the smurf-turf as assistant head coach to Chris Petersen, helping the Broncos go 13-0 with a Fiesta Bowl win. According to an ESPN.com piece, Pat "loves" Boise. Ugh. After Boise, there's also Purdue, where his older brother Rob plays tight end. Then there's Arizona, where his one-time Pitt recruiter Tony Gibson now calls home.
You may notice a certain lack of blue in there. Although he received a Michigan offer shortly after NSD, it seemed more like more of a blip in the radar than a real area of attraction for him.This, however, could be attributed to his relatively quiet nature throughout the process. Although rated as a 4* OG to Scout, one of only 4, there are only 10 total stories on him, 2 of which cover his commitment to Michigan. Still, anyone who saw this commitment coming is a liar, as I don't think even Kugler imagined he'd be so impacted by his trip.
Depth at Center has been an area of concern for Michigan fans ever since it became apparent that we weren't going to land Alex Kozan, and lost Caleb Stacey to Cincinnati. Jack Miller is the mainstay for a few years, but this year's class needed a solid, high-upside type of kid to anchor the line once Miller leaves, although that won't be for a few years. Kugler should have the opportunity to come in, redshirt, and become tutored by Coach Funk for a few years before taking the field. He may, however, be forced into the two deep and lose his redshirt because the only other two potential Centers on the roster, Rocko Khoury and Ricky Barnum, will be gone by the time Kugler is on campus.
As far as his play goes, I'm glad he's staying on the inside. He's extremely rough in pass protection. He's choppy and lacks lateral agility at the tackle position. In the interior of the line, he flashes good technique and good leverage, but he also has the tendency to stand straight up off of the ball, Big Will Campbell-style. His initial punch is alright, but altogether, I'm a bit surprised that his father is an offensive line coach.
So there you have it, folks. Kugler is a high-upside, high intensity center prospect that should anchor the center of Michigan's line for years to come, after Jack Miller departs. The offensive line in this class is likely all wrapped up, unless someone like Laremy Tunsil or Ethan Pocic decides to commit. Kugler's commitment is even more remarkable when you consider his relative obscurity over the past month. All in all, another very impressive pick-up for the Maize and Blue, in a class that's shaping up to be one of the best in the nation.