Commentary

Henry Poggi is well-connected

Watch List DT from Maryland has ties to many colleges, but will that matter?

Originally Published: March 8, 2012
By Dave Hooker | ESPN RecruitingNation

Connections are everywhere in Henry Poggi's recruitment.

With a father and two brothers who played college football, the ESPNU 150 Watch List prospect from Baltimore Gilman is much more tied into the college football scene than the average recruit. That means he has a good feel for some of the schools that have extended recent offers, like Penn State.

[+] EnlargeJim Poggi, Henry Poggi, and Sam Poggi
Courtesy of Poggi Family2013 defensive line prospect Henry Poggi, middle, pictured with older brothers Jim, left, and Sam, might be the best of the bunch.

Nittany Lions coach Bill O'Brien and defensive coordinator Ted Roof coached Poggi's oldest brother, Sam, when he played at Duke. The younger Poggi said he definitely wants to visit Happy Valley, thanks in part to his brother's recommendation.

"He said they're real good guys, especially Coach Roof and Coach O'Brien," Henry said. "He said they really care about you as a player and as a person. They're just cool guys to play for."

The coaches mean so much that Henry has reason to believe the recently hired staff can survive the scandal that was uncovered last fall and is still being investigated.

"Penn State has just an unbelievable football tradition," Henry said. "Obviously, the whole scandal, it's definitely been rocked. I think the coaches they hired are great coaches and I think they'll get them back on the right track."

Henry, who also has received offers recently from Cal, Florida, Missouri and Arizona State, doesn't just have ties to nearby schools. He has connections way out West. Henry has a good feel for Cal defensive line coach Todd Howard because Howard played under Jackie Sherrill -- just like Henry's father, Gilman head coach Biff Poggi.

Henry also appreciates the fact that Howard played in the NFL.

"I like coaches who are masters of their trade," Henry said.

Being three time zones away shouldn't hurt Cal's chances, either, because he has said he's willing to travel anywhere for the right school. Moreover, the recent, sudden loss of defensive line coach Tosh Lupoi to Washington shouldn't hurt the Golden Bears. Henry said Lupoi didn't recruit him much at all before departing Cal's staff, even though Lupoi recruited several other players in the mid-Atlantic area.

However, just because Henry doesn't have a connection to a school doesn't mean he won't consider it. He visited Ohio State last week and said he thought the facilities were nicer than he expected and reminded him of the offerings in the SEC. He also enjoyed meeting with three members of the coaching staff, including head coach Urban Meyer.

"I really want to get out and watch them in action and watch them coach," said Henry, who plans to take a return visit to Columbus.

As for some of the other schools he's considering, Henry said he's heard Arizona State is a fun school and Missouri's move to the SEC helps its chances. Henry consistently speaks highly of the Big Ten and SEC, which should also keep Florida in the mix.

Nearby Maryland is worth watching, thanks to its strong close in 2012, nabbing a handful of highly touted local prospects.

"It's always nice to see your hometown team get some of the top guys in state," he said after a visit to College Park on Sunday. "To be a good program, you have to recruit good players. I think everyone knows that. I would definitely say that has benefited them a lot recently. A big part [in my recruitment] also will be how they'll do next year on the field."

With more scholarship offers than he can count (likely close to 50), things have changed drastically for Henry. Last fall, when he had less than a dozen offers, he singled out Tennessee and Michigan as schools that were standing out. Now he's more open-minded.

"I would say it's pretty unclear right now," Henry said. "I don't have any favorites. I'm still looking around. I'd like to visit Alabama again, possibly Ohio State again. I'm really not sure right now."

Henry is planning a trip to Michigan soon, possibly this weekend. The second Alabama trip will come later.

Alabama is one of two schools that are recruiting him on offense. Alabama has spoken to the 6-foot-3, 245-pound junior about playing tight end, H-back, defensive end or nose guard. Tennessee is recruiting him exclusively as a tight end.

Henry -- honestly and truthfully -- doesn't care which position he plays in college.

"No, I really couldn't care less as long as I'm playing and helping my team," he said. "I'm a coach's son so I feel like my dad would whoop my butt if I was choosing what position I wanted to play."

He should be better on both sides of the ball during his senior season, thanks to his work ethic.

"He has been working on things to become more of a factor in the passing game as a tight end," Gilman assistant Henry Russell said, "and continuing to work on new moves on the defensive side."

That could result in even more offers -- as if Henry needs them. Yet the schools that have offered early seem to have established themselves well, including Iowa.

And yes, Henry has a connection there as well. His older brother, Jim, is a freshman linebacker for the Hawkeyes.

Dave Hooker

Reporter, RecruitingNation