Although Pat Kugler had many other scholarship offers from major colleges, he was excited when the University of Michigan gave him a scholarship offer Feb. 7.
It was a nice gift for Kugler's 17th birthday.
Three weeks later, Kugler gave Michigan something -- his word.
Kugler, a junior at North Allegheny, made a verbal commitment to Michigan last Saturday while visiting the school. Kugler, a 6-foot-5, 280-pound offensive lineman, is one of the most heavily recruited juniors in the state and scouting services rank him among the top 100 players in the country in the class of 2013.
"Michigan actually came into things late," Kugler said. "Their line coach [Darrell Funk] came to two of our practices during the season. But other than that, we really didn't talk until my birthday when they offered. That's when I got real interested in them."
Kugler acknowledged he was hoping Michigan would offer. He had a liking for the Wolverines since his childhood, when he and his family lived in Clarkston, Mich., about an hour away from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. Kugler's father, Sean, is the offensive line coach for the Steelers, and at the time was an assistant with the Detroit Lions. Pat went to some Michigan games during those years.
"I've always been a Michigan fan," Pat Kugler said. "I wasn't thinking too much about them. I was worried more about the other teams that were interested. Once I talked to Michigan and they offered, it piqued my interest.
"I had really narrowed it down to five schools. I just didn't tell many people. I visited Ohio State and I was scheduled to visit Michigan State this Saturday. I was going to go to Florida and Florida State in mid-March. But after I was at Michigan, I just decided that was the place I wanted to be."
While on his visit, Michigan's stadium opened his eyes.
"Everything was really nice there," Kugler said. "But what sold me really was 'The Big House.' Once you step foot in there ... They had a highlight video playing when I went in there and it was just ...
"I went there three or four times when we lived up there. Every time it was just a crazy atmosphere."
Kugler has been a starter since his sophomore year at North Allegheny and coach Art Walker said Kugler can play any position on the offensive line. Kugler said he will probably play guard or center at Michigan.
Kugler's brother, Rob, is a freshman at Purdue, also a member of the Big Ten Conference.
"My mom is all ready to order a jersey with half Michigan and half Purdue," Kugler said with a laugh.
Mike White: firstname.lastname@example.org