High-SchoolPennsylvania: Get Familiar
April, 2, 2012
By Christopher Parish | ESPN.com
Kugler family North Allegheny (Wexford, Pa.) junior Patrick Kugler (right) has learned a lot about playing the line from his father, Sean (left), the offensive line coach for the Pittsburgh Steelers.Few things are certain in high school football, but it’s always safe to assume North Allegheny (Wexford, Pa.) is going to be in the state-title discussion.
Last season, the Tigers lost in the Class AAAA state semifinals by three points and finished No. 49 in the POWERADE FAB 50. And this fall, with many of their skill players returning, the Tigers will again be among the favorites to bring home the hardware.
One of the biggest reasons for the team’s consistent success is an always-strong offensive line, and junior offensive lineman Patrick Kugler is as good as you’ll find in the nation. The ESPNU 150 Watch List recruit and Michigan commit was named an ESPNHS Underclass All-American this past fall.
Kugler’s father, Sean, is the offensive line coach for the Pittsburgh Steelers. And his brother, Robert, is currently in his first season at center at Purdue.
Clearly, it’s a family that knows the O-line. And Patrick might be the best of the bunch.
“He’s one of those guys who just loves to play,” says North Allegheny head coach Art Walker. “He plays hard every snap, he’s physical, he’s aggressive, and he’s a good locker room guy as well.
What makes this stellar junior one of the nation’s top offensive linemen? It’s time to Get Familiar with Patrick Kugler.
ESPNHS: How’s the offseason going? What are you up to so far?
Kugler: It’s been going really good. I’ve been doing some lifting, and this summer I’m hoping to play some AAU football. I’m staying busy.
ESPNHS: Is there a specific goal behind your lifting? Are you trying to get bigger, just gain strength, or just kind of stay where you’re at now?
Kugler: I’m definitely always trying to get stronger, and right now I’m just trying to mold my body. I have a little bit of a gut, and it would be awesome to get rid of that right now and just mold my body into a college-type body instead of a big wide-body high school hooligan.
ESPNHS: You play at a school — North Allegheny — that is always right in the state title discussion. What are your expectations for this upcoming season?
Kugler: If we don’t win a championship, it’s an unsuccessful season. We’ve got a great team coming back this season — great quarterback, great running game, great receivers and a great defense. The only question is going to be who starts on that offensive line, and obviously I’ll be there, and hopefully I can help give us a great shot at winning state.
ESPNHS: What are some of the things you think you need to work on before you get to college?
Kugler: Technically, I always want to improve on my pass blocking. I think we’re going to pass a lot more this year because we have a good quarterback and good receivers, and so that’s something I’m going to need to improve on. After that, it’s just keeping my feet underneath me and not losing my balance.
ESPNHS: Tell us about the process that went into your college decision.
Kugler: Well, I committed to Michigan a month ago, and it’s been nice having it over with and not having to talk to any other coaches.
ESPNHS: What were your favorite and least favorite parts of the whole process?
Kugler: My favorite part was just learning about all of the different schools, some prestigious programs. And my least favorite part was having to talk to all of these people who were trying to recruit me and continuously having to talk to people even if I knew I wasn’t going to their school.
ESPNHS: You’re from a family that knows its offensive line, between your dad and your brother. What are those conversations around the dinner table like?
Kugler: My dad doesn’t really talk a lot of football with us. We’re not criticized unless we ask for it, and then he’ll give us his two cents. But he’ll help us work out and improve. It’s not forced.
ESPNHS: Your brother just went through this whole recruiting process. How was he able to help you?
Kugler: He’s definitely really helped. He told me all sorts of schools to look at, and he told me what were some fun schools to go to and check out. He’s happy I chose a Big Ten school.
ESPNHS: You won’t line up directly against him, but is Purdue-Michigan the new rivalry now?
Kugler: Oh, definitely. We’re looking forward to it.
School: North Allegheny (Wexford, Pa.)
TV Show: “Family Guy”
Athlete: Maurkice Pouncey
Sports Team: Pittsburgh Steelers
Video Game: “Assassin’s Creed”
February, 20, 2012
By Jim McCormick | ESPN.com
In a city known for triumphant underdogs, it's fitting that David Williams of West Catholic (Philadelphia) went from third on the depth chart at running back for the Burrs as a sophomore to star status early into his junior campaign this past fall. Now coveted by major college programs across the country, with an offer from Ohio State being the most recent evidence of this reality, the ESPNU 150 Watch List standout must navigate the process of making a difficult college decision.
But before he decides where he'll take his considerable talents on the college level, the speedy back -- who clocked a 4.44 40-yard dash at the Philadelphia Nike Football SPARQ Combine -- must first find a high school to attend for his senior season. West Catholic, which dates back to 1916, is closing its doors in a wave of Catholic school closings across the Philadelphia area.
Williams is mulling local powers like LaSalle (Wyndmoor, Pa.) and POWERADE FAB 50 powerhouse Archbishop Wood (Warminster, Pa.) as potential landing spots for his senior year. He says he finds value in this unique process as it helps him on the road to the next level.
It's time to Get Familiar with David Williams.
ESPNHS: Your game is a blend of power and speed. Is there a running back in the pros or on the college level that you model your style after?
Williams: It's DeMarco Murray, no doubt. He's a complete back; he's strong when you need those short yards but also versatile in the passing game. I guess I also identify with him being an underdog and when he got the chance with the Cowboys, he ran with it. I like when a back can show off speed but then also isn't afraid to drop that shoulder and play physical.
ESPNHS: With West Catholic closing after this school year, how are you navigating your next step in high school?
Williams: It's sad that my school and others in the area are closing. There will be a lot of talented players that have to find new schools and new teams after this year. But to get a positive out of it I have to see the side of all this that is helping prepare me for my college decision. It's like a smaller version of the college decision, with a lot of the same priorities being used. If I had to pick the two main factors for me right now, it would have to be the quality of the education at my next school and as a running back, of course, the offensive line on the team there. It's not something I was thinking about too much until lately because I had to focus on my team at West Catholic and my grades here, but I just want to find a place where I'm comfortable in the classroom and on a team that is in a position to win.
Courtesy of West Catholic High SchoolDavid Williams already has offers from Notre Dame, UConn, Maryland, Pitt, Rutgers, Temple and Virginia.
ESPNHS: You seem to have a lot of pride, like most guys from Philly, in your city and the brand of football that comes out of the area. Do you think the quality of the game from that side of the state deserves more props?
Williams: Football can be overlooked in Philly. Not just by basketball being a major sport around here, but also by Western Pennsylvania and the way people appreciate the game out there. But if you look at the past couple of years, this side of the state has had contenders in the state playoffs and even the championship games regularly, so it's also just a perception thing that the football in this area isn't as strong. It's definitely getting there. My school has shown well in the playoffs versus some teams across the state and just look at what Archbishop Wood and LaSalle have proven over the past few years.
School: West Catholic (Philadelphia)
Position: Running back
Movie: "Law Abiding Citizen"
TV Show: Anything on NFL Network
Song: "Who Gon Stop Me" by Jay-Z & Kanye West
Musical artist: Young Jeezy
February, 6, 2012
By Christopher Parish | ESPN.com
Courtesy of Samuel F. Getty DCCedar Cliff (Camp Hill, Pa.) junior Adam Breneman is the only tight end in the Class of 2013 rated a five-star recruit by ESPN RecruitingNation.
In the past three seasons, no tight end recruit has earned a five-star rating by ESPN RecruitingNation.
Adam Breneman is the first to break that streak.
When RecruitingNation released its early look at the top 100 prospects in the class of 2013 last week, the Cedar Cliff junior was one of 26 athletes to earn the coveted honor. But it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise considering how well Breneman has played.
The 6-foot-5, 225-pounder caught 72 passes for 1,120 yards and 12 touchdowns this season and was selected to the ESPNHS Underclass All-American team. Breneman helped Cedar Cliff advance to the district quarterfinals, where the Colts fell to eventual state champ Central Dauphin.
But for as good as he was in the receiving game, he might have been an even better blocker -- a source of pride for the junior who has close to 30 scholarship offers.
So what makes this stellar tight end so good? It’s time to Get Familiar with Adam Breneman.