High-SchoolPennsylvania: Patrick Kugler

Get Familiar: Standout OL Patrick Kugler

April, 2, 2012
KuglerKugler 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.

Patrick Kugler
School: North Allegheny (Wexford, Pa.)
Position: OL
HT: 6-4
WT: 280
College: Michigan

TV Show: “Family Guy”
Athlete: Maurkice Pouncey
Sports Team: Pittsburgh Steelers
Food: Steak
Video Game: “Assassin’s Creed”

FAB 50 Offseason Primer: Central Dauphin

February, 29, 2012
Central Dauphin FootballRalph Wilson/APCentral Dauphin (Harrisburg, Pa.) players celebrate with fans after winning the school's first state football title in December.
During the offseason, we’ll check out one team per week that looks like a sure bet to be among the best in the nation for next fall.

FAB 50 Offseason Primer Archive

This week’s team: Central Dauphin (Harrisburg, Pa.).

2011 Season: 15-1, PIAA AAAA state champion, No. 38 in the final POWERADE FAB 50.

Projected 2012 Preseason Ranking: Top 15. The Rams celebrated their first state title last season with a team that featured several underclass standouts. Coach Glen McNamee's squad won its final 14 games after losing to rival Bishop McDevitt (Harrisburg, Pa.). The team defeated defending state champ North Allegheny (Wexford, Pa.) in the semifinals and then upended perennial contender North Penn (Lansdale, Pa.) in the championship. The Rams will likely enter the reason ranked No. 1 in the Keystone State, a spot that’s always going to translate to a high ranking in the FAB 50.

Team Strengths: The three most productive offensive players for the Rams will return for their senior seasons in the fall and that spells problems for upset-minded foes. Quarterback Brandon LaVia ran a balanced attack, throwing for 1,490 yards and 16 touchdowns and rushing for four scores. Running back/linebacker Zayd Issah was league MVP on offense, but he’s just as touted on the defensive side. He finished the year rushing for 1,345 yards and 21 touchdowns and catching 10 touchdown passes on offense and racking up 123 tackles and 14 sacks on defense. Junior running back/defensive back Drew Scales had nine touchdowns on offense and was also a dynamic kickoff returner.

Another Pennsylvania team to watch: North Allegheny (Wexford, Pa.) had its unbeaten season and bid for a second straight PIAA AAAA state crown halted in the state semifinals by Central Dauphin, which won 23-20 on a last-second field goal. The Tigers, who finished No. 49 in the FAB 50, could be in the running for another state crown in the fall with the return of eight all-conference players, three of which earned all-state honors. ESPNHS Underclass All-American and two-way lineman Patrick Kugler, a Michigan commit, will anchor both lines. Quarterback Mack Leftwich will run the offense after accounting for 36 touchdowns as a junior.

Three local stars headline ESPNHS Underclass All-American team

December, 23, 2011
Three players from Pennsylvania earned spots on the ESPNHS Underclass Football All-American team this morning.

Cedar Cliff junior Adam Breneman made the team as a tight end. According to the list...

"This big target (6-5, 225) caught 72 passes for 1,120 yards and 12 touchdowns this season. He's got offers from the likes of Stanford, Notre Dame, Miami, Alabama, Florida State, Michigan and South Carolina."

North Allegheny junior Patrick Kugler, who also earned a spot on the ESPNHS All-American team as a third-teamer, made the list as an underclassman. From the list...

"Kugler definitely has the bloodlines to succeed in the trenches, as his father, Sean, is the offensive line coach for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Patrick's play this season was key to North Allegheny reaching the Class AAAA state semifinals and being ranked among the nation's top teams."

Central Valley junior Robert Foster made the squad as a kick returner. Foster is also a wide receiver and defensive back and made the ESPNHS Pennsylvania Preseason All-State team as a defensive standout earlier this season. From the list...

"One of the nation's top receivers in the Class of 2013, Foster caught 37 passes for 584 yards and 12 touchdowns. But he was especially dangerous on returns -- his 70-yard kickoff return set up the game-winning touchdown against Hopewell (Aliquippa, Pa.) on ESPNU."

For the full ESPNHS Underclass Football All-American team, click here.

Five Days of List-Mas: PA's underclass football players

December, 13, 2011

Monday | Tuesday | Wednesday | Thursday | Friday

Whether you’re putting together a grouping of best quarterbacks or worst albums, or you’re making that special list for Santa, there’s nothing quite like a good list. So in honor of the holiday season we’re bringing you lists all week long — Merry List-Mas!

Today: The top underclassmen in high school football.

The state championships are nearly over and the Class of 2012 has had a great run, but it’s never too early to start looking at the impressive players in the Class of 2013 and beyond. Who’s going to rule the gridiron in Pennsylvania next season? We give you the early rundown of who to watch for.

5. Mack Leftwich (JR), North Allehgeny, QB
Credentials: Threw for 2,223 yards, 20 TDs; ran for 933 yards and 16 scores; led team to POWERADE FAB 50 national ranking and state semifinal berth

4. Michael Keir (JR), Roman Catholic, QB
Credentials: Three-year starter, earning D-I interest, threw for nearly 1,500 yards this season, owns school passing record

3. David Williams (JR), West Philadelphia Catholic, RB
Credentials: Rushed for more than 1,500 yards, 16 scores, led team to state semifinals

2. Patrick Kugler (JR), North Allegheny, OL
Credentials: Stellar lineman anchored protection for Mack Leftwich (see No. 5), already has 15 major D-I offers

1. Robert Foster (JR), Central Valley, DB/WR
Credentials: Scored 12 TDs on offense but was even better on defense; named to Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Fabulous 22 as sophomore, already has six D-I offers

Click here to check out some of the other states in our Five Days of List-Mas.

Tomorrow: The POWERADE Pennsylvania Weekly Rankings.