Wednesday, July 8, 2015

2015 Season Countdown: #53 Henry Poggi

Henry Poggi (#7) with Maurice Hurst, Jr. (image via
Name: Henry Poggi
Height: 6'4"
Weight: 273 lbs.
High school: Baltimore (MD) Gilman
Position: Tight end/defensive end
Class: Redshirt sophomore
Jersey number: #7
Last year: I ranked Poggi #63 and said he would be a backup strongside end. He played in six games and made 2 tackles.

Poggi had a reasonable excuse for not playing much last season, when he was behind senior Brennen Beyer and a very talented Taco Charlton. Both of those guys stayed healthy, and the season went about how one would expect for a third-string defensive end. Poggi did not play much; when he did, it was nothing spectacular. He did do solid work, though, and looked like a future contributor.

This year Poggi has added two pounds, but the coaching staff moved him to tight end in the spring, at least part-time. He practiced quite a bit on offense, though he is still listed on the official roster as a defensive end. This is a guy who was recruited by Alabama to be an H-back, so his offensive skills - particularly as a blocker - are not to be overlooked. He will not be a starter on either side of the ball. Defensively, junior Taco Charlton and redshirt junior Chris Wormley are the front-runners; offensively, Poggi has to battle Jake Butt, A.J. Williams, Tyrone Wheatley Jr., Khalid Hill, Chase Winovich, and Ian Bunting for playing time. Realistically, Poggi just has to bide his time until graduation sorts out the depth chart. The path seems clearer on defense, because Michigan is fairly thin at the end positions before you get to a couple undersized true freshmen.

Prediction: Backup defensive end


  1. This guy is intriguing to me as a TE. When we went through the little ripple in his recruitment over Alabama recruiting him at TE, I went back and looked at his TE snaps. He really likes contact and doesn't care a lick whether he's blocking or being blocked, he pops you in the chest, grabs some shirt and starts throwing you around. Put him in motion and he just destroys smaller guys trying to hold the edge. About halfway through the vid he hits a safety in red so bad, the kid can't get his helmet back on straight.

    Then, he can catch some, he mostly plucks the high balls with his hands. He can basket catch although he does let the occasional ball get into his body. I think this kid is a football player regardless of position and a perfect Harbaugh kid. If I'm coaching this team, I'm actively looking for a place to play him and in front of Williams or at H back would be right at the top of my list.

    Finally, some of the competition Gilman plays is pretty good, there were some jumbo guys blocking on Poggi that could move. He was throwing them around too.

    1. This feels like a reboot of the Heitzman conjecture from last year.

      You could be right of course - and with 3 years of eligibility it's not too late. However, Michigan seems to be recruiting TE very heavily and has multiple young players at the position already (Wheatley, Hill, Bunting) AND they're moving other guys who seem like more natural fits over there (Winovich). It certainly doesn't seem like they see Poggi as a fixture at TE.

      That said, and as covered in the Williams post, there's not a lot of pure blocking TEs, so maybe there's a role for Poggi to carve out for himself there as an upperclassmen. It's not going to happen overnight though.

      Williams has been unimpressive for a couple years, so if there's a better option on the list of returning players I'd be very surprised.

    2. It does not feel like a reboot of the Heitzman conjecture from last year.

      Poggi was a highly sought after recruit. Poggi was a highly ranked recruit. Heitzman was committed to Vanderbilt, I think, and then Hoke flipped him last minute to fill out a recruiting class.

      Harbaugh likes trying people out at different positions. With the defensive scheme changing, it doesn't throw up a red flag for Harbaugh trying people out at different positions.

    3. The argument was the same. This DE turned TE projects to be a good blocker because he "is just a football player" and "is probably already better than AJ Williams" and "other teams recruited him for TE".

      I do agree that trying a guy at a different position is not necessarily a sign of imminent irrelevance, particularly under Harbaugh, but it's a sign that might be the case.

      The current scheme is basically the same scheme Pogi was recruited to play in (at least in the front 7). The nomenclature has changed from 2013, but you still have the SDE position that RVB and Roh manned and that Poggi projects to. I personally thought he'd end up at DT eventually but he hasn't really grown larger and that position is well-stocked.

    4. There is a big difference between other teams recruiting someone as a TE and Alabama recruiting someone as a TE. And Alabama was heavily recruiting him.

    5. That's where the argument isn't the same. Nobody thought Heitzman was a good football player. He brought his hardhat and lunchbox to work everyday and tried to make it happen.

      The schematic change is different under Durkin than it was under Matteson.

    6. Not true. Thunder projected him to start at SDE in 2013 and then predicted he'd pass Williams over in 2014. It's not like he was in the minority either. Sure no one expected an all amercian but everyone loved him as a "football player" who could do the job. The idea that Heitzman would contribute significantly to improvement at the TE and run-blocking was commonplace last year, along with the idea that Nussmeir would simplify the offense, bring some of that Alabama mojo, and everything would be roses with Borges gone.

      Really, same stuff this year but put Harbaugh/Drevno in for Nussmeir and Hoke/Nussmeir in for Borges and then replace Poggi for Heitzman. Even the Alabama connection remains.

      Well - we aren't Alabama OR Stanford. This is a Brady Hoke recruited unit coached by Jim Harbaugh, but it's still a football team and some things (like position switches across offense to defense) remain notable no matter what.

    7. I don't think I ever called Heitzman a good football player. I said I thought he should be the first guy on the field at SDE with plenty of rotation. My stat projection for him in 2013 was 25 tackles and 2 sacks, which is not anything really significant. Then I said I thought he would pass up Williams as the blocking TE by the end of the year and have 1 catch for 8 yards in 2014; he had 2 catches for 32 yards and 1 touchdown.

      Regardless, I never predicted greatness for Heitzman and did not think a great deal of him coming out of high school. But he was a hard-nosed guy and the type that Hoke seemed to like, so I thought he would play a role (and he did).

    8. FWIW my comment wasn't intended as a criticism of anyones projections. Predictions are hard.

      I'm just saying that a consensus opinion had formed, a lot of people expected Heitzman to make an impact (which he really didn't) and a lot of the same logic is getting applied again to a guy who, according to the roster, is still a DE.

      There are some parallels there. It's not the exact same thing because it never is, but there are similarities.

    9. I didn't really take it as a criticism of my predictions. I just think your point about Heitzman is a little overblown. I said he would be a "starter" but didn't think he would produce much, and there are plenty of those guys. JT Floyd was a starter but I never called him a good football player. AJ Williams has started some games but isn't good.

  2. I disagree, I think Poggi's path to PT this year could be better on offense. The tight end position appears to be wide open after Butt. If he is a superior blocker than Bunting, Williams, etc; he should be able to get some snaps. One indicator would be if he changes his number prior to the season since it is shared with Shane.

    1. Good point re: the number.

      I think they keep him at defense. Given that he's been working at D for the last couple seasons it's unlikely he's a better blocker than Hill, Williams, and other TE/H-backs.

  3. I have a different take. As with Douglass, Norfleet, Heitzman, and Teric Jones the 'experiment' on the opposite side of the field is a red flag. It looks to me like Poggi is in an uphill battle to ever see the 2-deep.

    He seems buried at DE. It was one thing when Michigan changed schemes a bit to have two WDE types on the field (Beyer and Clark), it is another now that they are back to 'normal' and there's SDE position to man. There's no clear incumbent for the spot (unless you count backup WDE Charlton or former DT Wormley over). Yet, instead of competing for the wide open position he seems to fit best at, Poggi is off trying out at TE. Add to that the fact that he was recruited by another staff and the circumstantial evidence here is not painting a very rosy picture. If you further consider that there were some dissenting voices (including Thunder) who questioned his impressive recruiting profile...

    I think Michigan will play Wormley and Charlton (for whom the label "very talented" is highly debatable but we'll save that debate for another day) at SDE and Poggi will be the nominal 3rd string. There are a lot of bodies at WDE/RLB (aka Buck) and at the DT spots - those guys seemed destined to slide to SDE and it doesn't appear that Poggi has done much to deter those kind of flips.

    1. I think Harbaugh has had a decent track record of trying guys on both sides of the ball before finding where they fit. Owen Marecic and Richard Sherman are two guys who made contributions on both sides of the ball. I'm not as concerned with guys flipping sides as I would probably be for someone like Lloyd Carr or Rich Rodriguez.

      I don't think he's necessarily buried at defensive end. I think moving to offense potentially gives him a chance to get on the field rather than sit behind a couple other guys. Chris Wormley is probably going to be that starter at SDE, from what I've heard, and Charlton seems like a capable backup. So the coaches can either make Poggi a third-string defensive end (who probably wouldn't play much) or maybe they can get something out of him on offense. It's not a terrible deal either way.

    2. Yeah - I like that about Harbaugh. He seems to legitimately be open-minded to change, new ideas, etc. How many coaches would take their leading receiver (as a freshman) and flip him to CB? How many coaches would use a starting LB at FB? etc.

      Marecic is very famous example, but also a bit of an outlier. He was clearly a pretty special athlete to be able to play both ways. Sherman was obviously a great athlete too, but his switch was the result of both injury and limited depth. More of the typical thing you'd expect where a guy just switches from A to B once and that's the end of the story.

      Going forward,I would guess that 60-80% of the guys who work on the opposite side of ball will end up back to their original spot. It's good to experiment and learn new skills and all that but not every guy is going to stick. I'm thinking that between Winovich, Poggi, and Pallante (3 recent D players who have worked at O) only one of them will stick, and I kind of doubt any of them will do more than just fill out the depth chart or provide a situational substitution. But it's certainly a possibility that one of them evolves into a starter too, given the opportunities at FB/HB/TE. I think the fact that they are Hoke guys who may or may not have been recruited by this staff decreases the odds of them landing a key role.

      As for Poggi at DE - I think the 3rd string DE is important. I agree with your expectations on Wormley and Charlton, but both should rotate in regularly and if/when one of them goes down they need a guy who is ready to plug in there. Sure, it could be Godin or Strobel or someone else - but Poggi seems like the most natural fit there. Godin may stick at DT for depth and Strobel seems like he's out of the rotation. I think they'll want a guy for depth that is a 'true' SDE, someone who knows his roles and reads and can plug into the lineup if a starting rotation guy goes down.

      There are more TEs ahead of Poggi than DEs in my view, though the positional ambiguity makes this observation more of a classification exercise than anything else. It may come down to something as seemingly trivial as if Godin is viewed as a DE, DT, or capable to plug in at both.

    3. Among the differences between Poggi and Heitzman is the fact that Poggi came in rated in the top 130 or so among all of the incoming prospects in the country, Heitzman might not have been in the top 130 Defensive ends.

      Another, being that Poggi arrived on campus at a legit 6'4'' around 255, and has grown to a Big 10 sized 270+. Heitzman played at 6'3, 225 as an HS senior, claimed to come in at 6'4' 240, but left 4 years later at 6'4' 250 which gives some pause on that incoming weight.

      Finally, there is that Alabama thing.

    4. Heitzman earned his way on to the two deep at least, and was an experienced football player. Poggi may end up a competent TE down the line but it's not going to happen overnight (i.e., this year).

      Poggi was evaluated as a recruit for DE. He's not a top 130 or so TE.

      It's a huge stretch to consider him a viable option to play at TE this year. Just as it was a huge stretch to think Heitzman was going to usurp Williams last year.

    5. It wasn't a huge stretch to think Heitzman would usurp Williams. First of all, Williams wasn't good. Second, Heitzman started 1 game while Williams started 4. Heitzman caught 2 passes for 32 yards and 1 touchdown, while Williams caught 4 passes for 33 yards and 0 touchdowns. Did Heitzman play more than Williams? No. But Williams didn't significantly outplay Heitzman, either.

    6. Medium-sized stretch then.

  4. I think that's a picture of Ty Isaac standing in front of Poggi.

    1. Haha!!! Looks like a jumbo FB in a Harbaugh offense.

    2. Yes. It's even cited as Isaac in the caption below.

      Lank. Learn how to read.

      After you've learned how to read, you can read up about football strategy and the michigan football team, and then maybe make one intelligent post on this site.

    3. @Anon 4:35. Learn to take a joke. Isaac doesn't look anything like that other guy, even if gained 50 pounds.

  5. Hurst is carrying some 'bad' weight!

  6. I am just happy reminiscing when we beat Saban on the recruiting trail for this guy. Here's wishing the Rashan-Gary outcome is like when we got Poggi and not when we lost DeShawn Hand.