February 20, 2013

Borton's Blog: Anti-hype dad

Biff Poggi stresses it to every one of his college-bound players, and his own son wasn't any exception. The coach at Baltimore's high-powered Gilman School delivers a message that comes across as a blunt pop in the nose, compared to recruiting hype.

You're coming in at the bottom of the heap. You're behind every single man already on the roster, because they've been there. They've been through college practices, and workouts, and meetings. You've got to earn everything you get.

Poggi laid precisely that warning on 6-4, 260-pound Henry Poggi, Rivals.com's No. 5 defensive tackle in the nation. The elder Poggi laughs at recruiting rankings, calling them "baloney" and his son certainly falls in line, waving off the typical talk about making a splash early.

Henry Poggi is looking to earn his way. His dad has put countless players into the next level of football, and urges them all to achieve everything that they can.

"Understand, there is great nobility in being a four-year scout guy, if that's the best you can be," Biff Poggi said. "But give all your talents every day, every rep, every drill, every class, every situation, and if you do, you'll end up exactly where you're supposed to be."

Everyone who has seen the younger Poggi play insists he's supposed to be somewhere beyond the scout team, and quickly. Michigan defensive coordinator Greg Mattison is looking to bring him in as a defensive end, one versatile enough to move down to tackle in passing situations to get quicker, hard-charging defensive ends on the line on those downs.

Mattison insists all nine of the defensive linemen Michigan has brought in over the past two recruiting classes possess the strength and mobility to give the Wolverines the type of front he wants. They'll be forming Michigan's two-deep not too far down the road.

The elder Poggi, while cautioning his son against taking anything for granted, is also willing to recognize talent when he sees it.

"He's a very good pass rusher - very good," Poggi said. "He's got good quickness off the ball, good hands, good hips. As a run player, he doesn't stay blocked very long, because of his ability to bend, and his hands and feet to get off blocks.

"That's at the high school level. We'll see how all of that translates into the next level. He has certainly demonstrated the ability to be able to do that against the competition he's playing against."

The coach saw a sign of his son's potential during the Big 33 Football Classic, when Henry Poggi went against someone bound for Tuscaloosa.

"In the Big 33 game, he was playing a three-technique," Poggi said. Depending upon where the tight end was, he was in a 2-I. That position is a thankless position, if you're a defensive lineman. You're always going to be double-teamed by the center and the backside guard.

"He was playing against a kid who I think is one of the best guards in the country, a kid by the name of Grant Hill, who is going to Alabama."

His son got the best of that match-up, Poggi noted. How that translates to the next level, he's not about to say.

But there's a good chance it pushes the needle past the demonstration teams, sooner rather than later.

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