ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Similar to most All-Star games or national showcases, the final score of the game doesn't hold nearly as much clout as the fun, big plays and individual talents that make up both rosters. Friday at the Under Armour All-America game, Team "Highlight" beat Team "Nitro" 16-3 with the most strategic portion of the contest coming towards the end of the first half when former NFL coach Herm Edwards (Team Highlight) decided to ice Team Nitro's kicker by calling timeouts.
Besides the good-natured ribbing and playful moments between both teams, Michigan's five commitments participating in the game had strong performances for the most part. Their evaluation and post game reaction are below.
OL David Dawson- Without question Dawson was more than capable of inflicting his physical nature on the opposition, regardless of the fact that he was often times lining up across from the No. 1 defensive end in the entire country. Team Nitro gave Dawson some help, scraping with a running back or tight end but for the most part Dawson did his job on his own, aside from one sack given up on the night.
Dawson afterwards: "I think I did well," Dawson told GoBlueWolverine. "I gave up one sack. My feet got a little lazy on me in the late minutes of the fourth quarter. But that was one bad play. At the end of the day I got to go against Robert Nkemdiche, great guy and great talent, and I really got better this whole week going against these guys."
OL Pat Kugler- Kugler split time between center and left guard after starting the game at the latter of the two positions along the offensive line. The Pennsylvania native always displays a toughness to his game that is hard to match, no greater example than his minor scuffle with one of the defensive lineman. Kugler got into a shoving match before a teammate tore him away and on the very next play, a punt (punt!), Kugler pancaked the same player, proceeded to standup, point his finger and send some kind words in his direction as he walked off the field towards the sideline. Aside from the toughness and attitude, Kugler also showed a propensity and unique ability to show patience but quickness at the same time, getting to the next level and putting a hat on a body.
QB Shane Morris- As difficult as it is to go up against some of the top talent in the country for an entire week in practice and then in a game to cap it off, a game such as this is extremely trying on a quarterback and I think that was evident with Morris's performance Friday. Learning a playbook, adjusting to new wide receivers and some of the greatest speed off the edge he might ever encounter, Morris struggled to find a rhythm early. In the second half Morris was able to find a rhythm, hooking up with Laquon Treadwell on a few passes. On that same drive, on a broken play, Morris took off with the ball and was on the receiving end of a vicious hit that left the crowd in quite the tizzy. Credit to Morris, he was able to bounce right back up off the turf.
Morris afterwards: "I felt good," Morris told GoBlueWolverine. "I mean, I got hit hard a few times. Besides that it's kind of hard out there in this game. We all didn't do as well as we would like to. No excuses. We went out there, played hard and the defense on both teams did really well. That's what kept the game so close, really."
DL Henry Poggi- Of these five, and a case could even be made for the entire game; Poggi was a force on the defensive line for Team Nitro. Fortunate to be on the receiving end of several one on one matchups, Poggi took advantage and set up shop in Team Highlight's backfield. Poggi was a split second away from a sack on many different occasions, showed nice play recognition to get off blocks but also did a nice job of holding the line at times, allowing his fast, strong linebackers to flow through the gaps and make the play. With Greg Mattison, Jerry Montgomery and Brady Hoke ready to work with him, Poggi's future appears very bright in the Maize and Blue.
Poggi on his play: "I had a lot of fun," Poggi told GoBlueWolverine. "It was a real good game, real good players. I thought I did okay. I did some things well and I did some things not so well. It was a lot of fun and a great experience."
OL Logan Tuley-Tillman- Logan was the pleasant surprise of the day. Struggling to handle some of the speed off the edge in practice, Tuley-Tillman was pretty consistent in his protection and run blocking. Tuley-Tillman's frame is beginning to take really nice shape and as he's set to move to Ann Arbor Sunday afternoon, that will only get better with a weight and nutrition program. Tuley-Tillman opened some eyes today and can even say he pancaked Nkemdiche.
Tuley-Tillman on the opportunity: "I felt good," Tuley-Tillman told GoBlueWolverine. "Just coming from the hood of Peoria, Illinois, having nothing and being an average, at best, basketball player and then being on this national stage is just a blessing. I relished this opportunity to be out here because just a few years ago I didn't know what I was going to do."
There will be tons of coverage in the days to come including interviews both from the Under Armour Combine as well as the Under Armour All-America Game.
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