Man of Steel
Michigan commit and Pittsburgh resident Patrick Kugler received his UA jersey
WEXFORD, Pa. -- Patrick Kugler isn't the son of a military man, but he's darn close.
The Wexford (Pa.) North Allegheny left tackle has a dad who is the offensive line coach for the Pittsburgh Steelers in Sean Kugler.
Anyone who knows anything about assistant line coaches in the NFL knows it's a title that comes with change. And Kugler, who picked up his jersey on Thursday as part of the American Family Insurance Selection Tour for the 2013 Under Armour All-America Game, has been a chameleon of sorts.
In his 17 years, he's taken his own mini tour around the country, living in Texas (5 years), Michigan (5), New York (3), Pennsylvania (3) and Idaho (1), so adapting is nothing new for Kugler, who's rated No. 115 in the ESPN 150.
"His brother came with him and he's now at Purdue," Tigers coach Art Walker said. "His older brother was the older brother that was at the forefront looking after him, but Pat fit in extremely well with the rest of the guys. As a sophomore, he felt like he had a lot to prove.
"He wanted to get on the field early, so he came in and worked hard to prove he could do that. He was not a starter, but was the next guy in. The right tackle spot was a senior's job to lose. Unfortunately, that senior got hurt that Wednesday, so Pat got his first start and that was it. Once he started that first scrimmage, he started every game that year and we ended up playing 16 games and won the state championship."
Wexford, Pa., has become the home Kugler has dreamed about with every move. Sort of an everyday town that has embraced the hulking senior, the city has made him one of its own.
He has returned the favor as well, accepting his Under Armour jersey in the gymnasium in front of those close to him and his teammates -- a true family man to the end.
"I definitely feel at home," Kugler said. "The Pittsburgh Steelers and Pittsburgh in general is just a football-oriented town. The style of football they play is very smash-mouth and that's the way I play.
"It really fits me. I have a lot of good friends here. I've adapted. It's definitely one of my most favorite places I've lived. I consider this town family."
Speaking of family, Kugler's path to success has been one of perseverance as well. At 6-foot-4 and 275 pounds, he's not even the biggest in his own house with his brother playing center for the Boilermakers and his father no small man himself.
But that is where Kugler might have the advantage. With a sibling that plays at the next level and a father that teaches the game at the position he plays, Kugler has a leg up on the rest.
"He's grown up with the game," Walker said. "He's been around it. He loves to watch his dad work. He goes to Steelers training camp. He watches the drills and listens in on meetings.
"His dad's a great offensive line coach, he listens to him. He gets that one-on-one. I know they watch film of Pat's game. What a great resource to have."
That resource will have to watch from afar next fall as Kugler will be at Michigan next year, heading back to the place he spent a good chunk of his life.
Kugler will have to adapt again, but won't be far from familiar places, so the life of a Wolverine won't be that much of a change.
"It'll be easy," Kugler said. "I lived in Clarkston, Mich., which is an hour away from Ann Arbor. I know a lot of the coaching staff. I'm close to them. I grew up a Michigan fan, so there will be no loyalty change there."