The scholarships, postmarked from places like Maryland and Mississippi, South Carolina and Southern California, West Virginia and Wisconsin, landed at Henry Poggi’s doorstep. Each letter attempted to convince one of the top defensive tackle recruits in the nation why his four collegiate years would be best spent at its university.
Forgive Poggi, but he was thinking bigger.
The Gilman defensive tackle committed to Michigan on Monday morning, choosing the Wolverines over finalists Alabama and Tennessee. The recruit approaching his senior year of high school said he made his decision thinking of the time when he will approach senior citizenship.
“People say I’m making a four-year commitment, but I’m really making a 40-year commitment,” Poggi said. “The kind of degree I wanted to get was a degree that carries a lot of weight.”
A more literal weight, Poggi’s, has Michigan making a decision of its own. The Michigan coaching staff told Poggi that he will begin at the five-technique, on the end of the defensive line. Once — and if — he adds more bulk in subsequent years, he will move back to his current position of defensive tackle.
That has at least one analyst shaking his head. JC Shurburtt, the national college football recruiting director at 247Sports.com, thinks that Poggi will realize his true potential playing on the interior.
“Maybe I’m wrong, but I just don’t think long term that’s realistic if he wants to play beyond college and be very good,” Shurburtt said. “If he were a 3-4 defensive end we were talking about, I think he’d be in business. But I think 4-3, that’s a stretch.”
Playing at tackle, though, Shurburtt sees an elite prospect.
“There’s defensive tackles across the country that either have a lot of heart or a lot of talent. Henry’s got both,” Shurburtt said. “[He is] the complete package of what you look for in a defensive tackle.
“He’s definitely an inside guy. That’s what gives him plus athleticism.”
Poggi also played tight end for Gilman but made the biggest impact on defense, where he helped lead the Greyhounds to the MIAA A Conference championship. The 6-foot-4, 255-pound junior recorded 10 sacks and 49 tackles, 11 for a loss, in 2011 and also earned Baltimore Sun first-team All-Metro honors.
Poggi said he also considered the Terps but felt more comfortable at Michigan, where he’ll become the Wolverines’ nation-leading 20th commit. The strength of Michigan’s class helped Poggi make up his mind early last week.
With Poggi, the rich get richer. Max Preps/CBS Sports recruiting analyst Tom Lemming rates Poggi as the No. 25 player overall in the nation and the third-best defensive tackle. Rivals puts him at No. 52 overall (No. 2 defensive tackle). Only ESPN differs, keeping him off of its Top 150 list, though he remains a four-star player.
The Wolverines have already accepted commitments from two other defensive linemen, Maurice Hurst Jr. and Taco Charlton.
“Obviously you want to play with the top guys,” Poggi said. “So I wanted to go with a recruiting class that’s really strong. I think everyone wants that.”