High School Insider Q&A: North Allegheny's Pat Kugler
North Allegheny's Pat Kugler wants his Tigers to win a third straight WPIAL Class AAAA title — and maybe a second state title — before the highly recruited two-way tackle becomes a Michigan Wolverine. The 6-foot-4, 285-pound senior is the son of Steelers offensive line coach Sean Kugler, and competitiveness runs in the family.
Q: What do you expect for this season?
A: Based on what we've done in previous seasons (WPIAL and PIAA titles in 2010; WPIAL in 2011), we definitely have the talent to win another state championship. We just have to put it all together.
Q: Do you have any pregame rituals?
A: I used to have a ritual with my brother (Rob, a redshirt freshman at Purdue). We used to play pingpong every morning before our games. I've tried to get my mom (Patsy) up for those (early-morning) pingpong games, but she wasn't having it. She's really good. We're very competitive. But I had to find a new ritual.
Q: Have you guys always played pingpong?
A: Me and my brother picked it up about five or six years ago. As we got older it was harder for our mom to play us in other sports, so she picked up pingpong too, so she could keep playing sports with us.
Q: Does pingpong help with football?
A: It definitely has helped with hand-eye (coordination), no doubt. I used to just hit the ball. Now I'm working on my curve. We're starting to actually get pretty good.
Q: What made you choose Michigan?
A: As soon as I went up there I fell in love with the coaching staff. They have a great plan. They're going back to their power ways. (In recent years) they've had an athlete like Denard Robinson, so they adapted their offense to him. I think that shows offensive coordinator Al Borges is a great coordinator because he's able to adapt to his players.
Q: When you watch NFL games, do you follow the ball or the line?
A: I always catch myself watching the linemen. Whenever I watch the Steelers, all I do is watch Maurkice Pouncey. He's my favorite. He plays with such tenacity.
Q: Has Pouncey ever given you advice?
A: He says just be the nastiest player out there. I've met all the players, and that's what they all say. Just be nasty. Athleticism can only get you so far. Being nasty is what gets you there.