Once again, that welcoming maize-and-blue feeling crept into Kyle Bosch's gut.
Making another among a ceaseless trail of recruiting trips to visit most of the 23 colleges that had offered him football scholarships, the St. Francis junior offensive lineman decided to end the process Saturday in Ann Arbor, Mich.
"I've been up to Michigan, I've been up to Ann Arbor multiple times I've been all over the country and there's just something at Michigan that couldn't be matched anywhere else," Bosch said Monday. "Between the coaching staff, the players and the academic prestige there's not a place in the country that can match that."
An intense 6-foot-5, 287-pound offensive tackle from St. Charles who added 22 tackles in an expanded defensive role last season, on Saturday in the Michigan Stadium press box Bosch gave his verbal commitment to Wolverines head coach Brady Hoke, offensive line coach Darrell Funk and Midwest recruiter and wide receivers coach Jeff Hecklinski, a Palatine graduate.
"Hoke gave me a giant bear hug and said welcome to the family," said Bosch, whose finalists included Stanford, Michigan State and Alabama.
Bosch would require a giant bear hug. He said he has dead-lifted 515 pounds, bench-pressed 405 and squatted a maximum of 585 pounds. St. Francis offensive line coach Joe Horeni, who played center on Downers Grove South's 2001 Class 8A state championship team, said Bosch averaged more than 6 pancake blocks in 2011.
"His ability to finish blocks is pretty special, I think," Horeni said. "A lot of linemen his size just want to lean on people, but he rolls his hips, which is something you see at the next level. He explodes on contact and drives through the person.
"There's countless times this year when the guy he's going against gets a little bit off the ground and then (Bosch) buries him into the ground. It's something special."
Bosch was named to the Illinois High School Football Coaches Association Class 5A All-State Team this past season, and was the Suburban Christian Conference Blue Division co-offensive lineman of the year with Northern Illinois-bound Scott Taylor of Marian Central.
A Daily Herald All-Area pick, Bosch was invited to the Jan. 2 Proving Ground Combine in Phoenix. His performance there earned another invitation, to the Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl in January 2013.
Better still, Bosch said he's bumped his grade-point average above 3.2. Spartans football coach Greg Purnell said St. Francis math teacher Kristina Lipskis made Bosch her December student of the month, and that history teacher Mike Harper moved him to an advanced-placement course.
Purnell has coached six Division I football players, so he knows more than just on-field attributes count. Bosch himself said Michigan recruiters interviewed a cross-section of St. Francis people for their perceptions of him as a person.
"Sure, nothing would have happened if it were not for Kyle's football abilities," Purnell said. "But other things had to happen."
Now that it's happened, for the first time since his first visit (Kansas) and first camp (Arizona) entering his sophomore year, Bosch needn't pound the pavement.
"It'll be nice to be able to focus my senior year on lifting, football and then academics," he said.
Recruiters may not yet be done with the Bosch family. A freshman at St. Charles East, Brennan Bosch was a 6-foot-1, 235-pound defensive end and offensive guard on the sophomore squad last fall.
"My brother will be up and coming," Kyle Bosch said. "He's getting big. He's definitely going to be as recruited if not more recruited than me when it's all said and done."