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Published: Thursday, 7/19/2007

Koger goes Blue, chooses Michigan

Whitmer senior Kevin Koger,
6-foot-4, 230 pounds, plays tight end and defensive end. Whitmer senior Kevin Koger, 6-foot-4, 230 pounds, plays tight end and defensive end.
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The border war for the football services of Whitmer senior Kevin Koger has been won by the University of Michigan.

The 6-foot-4, 230-pound tight end/defensive end, who earned first-team All-Ohio honors on defense for the 2006 season, announced his verbal commitment to the Wolverines last night.

Koger, who had narrowed his choices to Michigan and Ohio State, said that the deciding factor was his comfort level with UM and offensive coordinator/tight ends coach Mike DeBord, who recruited him.

"That was the place I felt most comfortable," Koger said of Michigan. "Ohio State is also a great school, but I felt better about Michigan. I felt coach DeBord was truthful with me [about where he'll play]. Michigan is known for using the tight end a lot more, so I should be able to get more touches."

Koger said he also had scholarship offers from the Toledo, Michigan State, Purdue, Illinois, West Virginia, Louisville, Boston College, Cincinnati and Eastern Michigan, among others. He carries a 3.3 grade-point average and has scored a 22 on his ACT college entrance exam. Koger said his parents, Carl and Pat, didn't steer him either way.

"They just wanted me to be happy," Koger said.

Also a three-year letter winner for the Panthers in basketball and track, Koger will begin his third football season on the varsity Aug. 24, hoping to help Whitmer match or surpass its success from 2006. The Panthers (9-4) defeated previously unbeaten Fremont Ross and Massillon Washington in the Division I playoffs before falling to Canton McKinley in the regional championship. Whitmer was 6-1 in City League play, and Koger earned first-team CL honors on both offense and defense.

"I don't think he could have gone wrong either way," Whitmer coach Joe Palka said. "I'm actually a little surprised because, recently, I thought he was leaning a little toward Ohio State. I'm real happy for him because it's a great fit for him and he's going to Michigan for all the right reasons."

Palka, whose run-oriented offense may have limited Koger's opportunities, said Koger's best football is ahead of him.

"He's a real special player and he can be as good as he wants to be," Palka said. "He has that rare combination of size, speed and good hands, and that versatility is hard to find. Kevin is also a good student, has great work ethic, a great attitude and he's humble. He's just a super kid."

Koger runs the 40-yard dash in 4.6 seconds, and bench presses 300 pounds.

"With playing three sports, he's busy year round and he's never really had all that much time to lift," Palka said.

Koger said he enjoyed the recruiting process early on, but it got more stressful lately.

"Now that it's done, a lot of stress is off of me and I can concentrate on my season," he said. "When I get to Michigan, I want to be the best player I can be and hopefully win a national championship."

Contact Steve Junga at: sjunga@theblade.com or 419-724-6461.

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