Pitt landed their 22nd addition to the 2021 recruiting class when Livonia (MI) Franklin High School offensive lineman Kyle Fugedi (6-foot-6 inches, 305 pounds) verbally committed on Monday after originally being committed to Miami of Ohio. After a prolonged dialogue with the Panthers coaching staff and a virtual tour of the school and football facilities, Fugedi decided “Pitt was it“.
To gain perspective on the newest Panther, Pittsburgh Sports Now spoke with Franklin head football coach Chris Kelbert.
“Not to state the obvious, but Kyle is a really good football player. He’s grown both physically and as a player over the last couple of years,” said Kelbert. “He’s a tenacious player that takes pride in finishing blocks and being a physical presence on the field. Kyle isn’t a ‘rah rah’ type of guy but he leads by example. He does what he must do and does it extremely well. No doubt, he was the leader of our offensive line group this season. He worked really hard and everybody followed his lead.”
Prior to his commitment to Miami of Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana had offered him a scholarship and was getting increased interest from the Minnesota Gophers within the last month. Fugedi is a towering lineman that moves exceptionally well for his size and his coach believes much of his athleticism is due to Fugedi’s involvement in hockey.
“He grew up playing little league football in our youth program. Kyle played hockey when he was younger as well. In fact, I believe hockey was his number one sport,” said Kelbert. “Once Kyle started to grow to six-foot-five, six-foot-six inches tall, I think he started to realize that his future might end up on the football field instead of the ice.”
“We brought him up as a sophomore to the varsity football program and he was probably six-foot-six inches tall and weighed 240 pounds. His junior year, he was up to 260 pounds and now he’s up to 300 solid pounds. Over the last three years his body has truly filled out.”
“Hockey has helped him quite a bit to become a better football player. We run a lot of jet sweeps and a lot to the outside. Kyle had to get around that end and up to the guys on the next level, the second level of defenders and he’s very good at that,” said Kelbert. “That goes back to his hockey background. He’s got amazing footwork from the hours he put in skating on the ice. I think that’s what separates him. He has the agility to move his 300 pounds with ease. You don’t find that in a lot of 300-plus pound lineman.”
Fugedi is generally ranked a 3-star prospect by the major recruiting services and is the third offensive lineman from the state of Michigan to join the Panthers 2021 highly ranked recruiting class. It can be argued that the 2021 offensive line class that includes Fugedi, Terreance Rankl (6-foot-5, 280 pounds) from Massillon, Ohio, Marco Fugar (6-foot-3, 280 pounds) from Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, Terrence Enos (6-foot-5, 315 pounds) from Detroit, Michigan, Brandon Honorable (6-foot-7, 315 pounds) from Detroit, Michigan and Trey Andersen (6-foot-6, 260 pounds) from Eagle Mountain, Utah is the best in the Pat Narduzzi era.
“Kyle committed to Miami of Ohio in late April to May timeframe. It was during the pandemic. He was able to go there and visit and felt very comfortable knowing that he was actually able to see it,” said Kelbert. “Pitt’s offensive line coach (Dave Borbely) and I spoke at the end of July, maybe early August. I think because Kyle had committed early it didn’t come across his desk until that moment. He told me he hadn’t seen his film prior to that and, once he saw it, he was really impressed from the beginning. That’s where Pitt’s pursuit of him ramped up.”
“The Panthers are getting a great lineman that’s only going to get better. He hasn’t maxed out yet from a strength standpoint. Once he gets into Pitt’s weightlifting program and football becomes his only job and focus, the sky’s the limit. Kyle is already a big, strong, young man. When he hits the weights and gets the proper nutrition, the sky’s the limit.”