- Chantel Jennings, ESPN Staff Writer
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Defensive tackle Henry Poggi (Baltimore, Md./Gilman) was born into a football family. With a father who played at Pitt and two older brothers who played at Duke and Iowa, by the time Henry approached high school football and college recruiting, he was always known as Biff's son or Jim and Sam's younger brother.
And he was fine with that, even proud.
But it meant that there was little the 2013 Michigan commit could do that hadn't already been accomplished by someone who wore the same last name on a uniform. However, after the American Family Insurance Selection Tour, he can say that he's the first Poggi to be named to the Under Armour All-America Game.
"It's a great honor," Poggi said. "It's great. I think it's a tribute to all the hard work that I've put in."
The ESPN 300 tackle garnered nearly 50 offers from schools before choosing the Wolverines in June, and his family was a huge part of that decision.
Henry's older brothers, Jim and Sam, and his father, Biff, helped guide him through the many letters, phone calls and Facebook messages that he received in this age of recruitment.
But they also helped him pick out what they said are the fundamental points Henry needed to look for. First, while it was important to like the head coach, it was even more important to like the defensive line coach and the strength and conditioning coaches, because those would be the two whom Henry would spend most his time with.
Defensive line coach Jerry Montgomery and strength and conditioning coach Aaron Wellman fit the bill.
"Montgomery is a huge reason why I decided to go to Michigan," Poggi said. "He's a great guy. He coaches his guys the way that I'd like to be coached. His personality and character are things I really respect."
The second point Henry's brothers and father stressed was the importance of looking at other commits in the class and making sure they were people Henry would not only be able to play with, but also be able to relate with on an emotional level.
For him, players like 2013 offensive line commits Kyle Bosch (Wheaton, Ill./St. Francis) and Patrick Kugler (Wexford, Pa./North Allegheny) stood out. Henry spoke with athlete Ben Gedeon (Hudson, Ohio/Hudson) on Facebook, and there was no getting past talking with quarterback commit Shane Morris (Warren, Mich./De La Salle), a self-proclaimed ace recruiter who Poggi says "spearheads the whole Michigan football operation."
"It was a terrific lesson to have," Henry said of watching his brothers go through the process. "Watching my brothers doing what I wanted to do, that was just the coolest thing. I was so proud of them, so proud to be the younger brother of two Division-I football players was really cool for me."
And Biff, who played at Pitt and currently coaches at Gilman, was there to make sure Henry found a place that would fit his character, both on and off the field.
Biff has known that Henry was a unique kid from the start. In many ways, he was similar to Sam, Jim and the several other college players Biff had coached before. But in one very obvious way, Henry has always been different from those players.
"He has that very interesting thing about him," Biff said. "But he has that thing, as a coach, that you see very rarely, but when you see it you know it. It's that steely, placid kind of inner confidence that's not wordy or showy or show-off-y or boisterous."
So it came as no surprise when he found out he would be presented with an Under Armour All-America Game jersey, that he was ready to place the credit elsewhere: to his father or his brothers, his Gilman football family and any coach who helped him along the way.
And he was quick to note that while he might be treading a new path for the Poggi family, it's not the first time a Gilman player will don an UA jersey. Both Cyrus Jones (2012) and Darius Jennings (2011) have walked that path before.
"It's a great honor, it really is," Poggi said. "Seeing how hard those guys who came before us worked, it made the younger guys realize what it would take."
Henry Poggi was in the shadow of his father and brothers, who all played D-I football. But as a UA All-American, he's making a name for himself.