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The next Michigan Man

2/20/2012

Kristina Lipskis was thrilled to hear Kyle Bosch committed to Michigan on Saturday.

"That's awesome, good for him," she said.

She then realized her math class at St. Francis High School in Wheaton, Ill., could have a little more flavor and energy than a typical Monday session. Lipskis was a swimmer at Ohio State.

"I know I'm not going to hear the end of this," said a laughing Lipskis, who has a Buckeyes banner hanging in her class. "... This year the [OSU football] team struggled a little bit. He liked to razz me about that a little bit."

Bosch, who Lipskis named math student of the month in December, said he won't rest at just verbal jabs at Lipskis and Ohio State's expense.

"I'll probably give her a T-shirt or something just to be smart," the four-star offensive lineman joked.

That's Bosch's personality, though. Physically imposing at 6-foot-5 and 290 pounds, there is nothing the ESPNU 150 Watch List left tackle enjoys more than sharing a laugh with friends, teachers and coaches.

St. Francis' defensive line coach Jesse Pierce has served as a bit of a mentor to Bosch over the last three seasons. Sometimes to break up a tense moment or just to get the rest of the team to crack a smile, Bosch and Pierce will spit out movie lines from goofball comedies -- movies that Bosch can finally legally get into, Pierce joked.

"'Anchorman' is probably the most quoted one," Bosch said. "Anything by Will Ferrell, but maybe some Al Pacino from 'Scarface'. He'll come and play Tony Montana and make me laugh a little bit."

Pierce said his relationship with Bosch is built on more than just football. They have a lot of the same interests off of the field, and Bosch has grown close with Pierce's 3-year-old son, who Bosch will always offer a hug or hand pound at the least.

But it was the final moments of Bosch's sophomore season when Pierce knew he had something special -- or someone special.

When Bosch walked through the door at orientation for eighth graders, Pierce knew Bosch would be spectacular on the field. It was a playoff loss in 2010 when Pierce learned Bosch was "a special kid" off of it.

St. Francis suffered a heartbreaking 21-14 loss to Montini in the first round of Illinois' 5A playoffs. St. Francis had two chances from the 3-yard line to tie the game late but was stuffed each time. In the locker room afterward, Pierce watched Bosch take the loss as hard as the seniors, despite having two years remaining.

"I grabbed him and hugged him and told him there's a lot more left. But for the seniors that was it," Pierce said. "[Bosch] waited by the bus, put his bag down and shook hands and hugged every one of the senior players, thanking them for letting him be a part of their senior season."

"Even guys I had altercations with I gave them a hug," Bosch said.

Bosch would experience tougher losses -- like the playoff loss this past year -- but the loss against Montini set in motion Bosch's rise as a team leader and his drive to win.

St. Francis coach Greg Purnell's lasting memory of Bosch so far is a game from Week 2 of this past season. St. Francis trailed Vernon Hills 14-0 at halftime, so Bosch took it upon himself to deliver the locker room speech going into the third quarter.

"He took over at halftime with some motivation and inspiration," Purnell said, "and then we ran behind him an awful lot in the second half."

Trailing 21-14, St. Francis ran "55 base" -- a rushing play designed to run right behind Bosch -- from the 15-yard line late in the game. Jack Petrando followed Bosch into the end zone.

The following call was to go for the 2-point conversion and the win. St. Francis was going to run the same play.

"No question at all, both teams knew what play we were doing," Purnell said.

Bosch recalls pancaking his opponent and watching his back waltz into the end zone for the game-winning score from the ground.

"It reminded me of my favorite Lombardi quote: 'I firmly believe that any man's finest hour, the greatest fulfillment of all that he holds dear, is that moment when he has worked his heart out in a good cause and lies exhausted on the field of battle victorious,'" Bosch said.

OK, so it might not be from "Anchorman", but it is quite fitting for Bosch, who both his coaches and teachers feel is a perfect fit for Michigan's athletics and academics.

"I think Kyle has really grown up as a young man over the last three years," Pierce said, "and this is just the beginning step for him."

Jared Shanker covers Midwest recruiting. He can be reached at jshankerespn@gmail.com.