April 15, 2010

Fairchild connection may net tight end

Faces of the past may best describe the recruiting process for Pittsburgh tight end/defensive end Robert Kugler. The 6-foot-3, 240-pound Kugler is the son of Steelers' offensive line coach Shawn Kugler, who has coached with many of the same coaches who are now recruiting his son.

College coaches are after Kugler, who just moved from Orchard Park (NY) to Pittsburgh due to his size and speed (Kugler claims a 4.85 time in the 40-yard dash). Last season Kugler, who said he is more of a blocking tight end than anything, caught about 15 passes and collected 80 tackles and five sacks as a defensive end.

"I love playing tight end, blocking and finishing guys," Kugler said. "Taking them down, that is the best part."

Kugler has an offer from Colorado State and Coach Steve Fairchild, who coached with the elder Kugler on the staff of the Buffalo Bills. Fairchild and the Rams have offered a scholarship to Kugler, who seems impressed by the Rams' early offer.

"Steve Fairchild coached with the Bills," Kugler said. "That is how I got in with Coach. They were the first school to offer me a scholarship. I think that is very important to remember. Coach Fairchild saw something in me before anyone else did before anyone else did. He offered me before I played my Junior year. I was going to go out there (to Fort Collins) about month ago, but the plane tickets didn't match up with when we were moving."

The Purdue Boilermakers have send assistant coach Gary Nord to see a Kugler and offer a scholarship. Kugler said Nord used to coach with his dad at UTEP. Kugler has already been to Purdue and enjoyed the process.

"I really liked the campus and the coaches were awesome," Kugler said. "I know the offensive coordinator, Gary Nord, really well. I've known him since he was eight. I really liked coach Nord a lot. We talked for probably a half an hour about family and football. It was great."

Boise State has offered a scholarship to the younger Kugler, which allowed him to get back to his old stomping ground.

"My dad coached at Boise in 2006 when they won the Fiesta Bowl," Kugler said. "I know the coaches there better than anyone in the country. I think Chris Petersen is one of the best coaches in college football. Coach Pete is going to be there for a while and they win. I like it out there."

Rounding out Kugler's top five are a pair of schools that his father has not coached at, but he has received scholarship offers from. Kugler said Stanford has made his top five because of the academic opportunities available. He said he has been to Syracuse five times over the last two years and believes Coach Doug Marone is the man to turn around the Orange program.

"I really like Syracuse when I went there," he said. "The campus is nice and felt like a place I can fit in."

Rounding out the list of schools that have offered Kugler a scholarship is UTEP, Buffalo, West Virginia, Florida International and Akron.

"Right now it is pretty even for me," Kugler said. "My top five are Colorado State, Boise State, Syracuse, Stanford and Purdue. I think those are all pretty even. I do want to make my decision before my senior football season to have the decision made."

Kugler said his father has told him to find a school that offers stability and he feels he can fit in as a player and a person. Kugler said he isn't concerned about distance from home, but is looking for a family atmosphere on the team as well as the school.

"Mainly I want to really like the coaches and know that it is a stable situation there," Kugler said "I am big into academics, so being a big academic school makes it a big deal."

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