— Nolan Ulizio (@NolanUlizio) January 25, 2015
With that, West Chester (OH) Lakota West OL Nolan Ulizio became Michigan's third commitment in the last day, joining DE Reuben Jones and QB Zach Gentry. Ulizio had been a UConn commit heading into his official visit this weekend, but as expected the lure of joining M's class overcame what the Huskies could offer. Ulizio is the ninth commit in the 2015 class and the third on the offensive line.
|3*, #42 OT||2*, NR OT||NR OT||2*, 79, #187 OT||
2*, #222 OT,
Ulizio hasn't received much attention from the recruiting services; only Scout gives him three stars while Rivals and ESPN don't even bother to rank him. His height is listed at anywhere between 6'4" and 6'6" with his weight in the 280-293 range. If he's on the higher end of that height range, he could end up as a tackle; given Michigan's needs that would be preferable.
There's very little out there on Ulizio. Scout's profile features a free evaluation from Dave Berk:
One of the more improved prospects from junior to senior year. Ulizio is a strong drive blocker with above average feet and the strength to compete early. Must work on overall flexibility, but showed great improvement in past year. Plays tackle in high school but projects as a guard with the ability to pull or a power tackle. Must get lower to get more power out of his hips. Dave Berk - Ohio Recruiting Analyst
His strengths are listed as drive blocking, feet, and power/strength; body control/balance, flexibility, and pass protection are noted as his areas to improve.
247's Clint Brewster posted a quick scouting report just after Ulizio committed:
He shows fluid movement getting out of his stance and displays a natural lateral shuffle to stay in front of defenders. Ulizio has the tenacity and aggressiveness you like to see on the offensive line, driving defenders back and putting them on skates. He does a great job on his drive blocks, getting underneath opponents and pushing them back. Ulizio is good at blocking on the move when he gets out on pulls and screens, staying engaged with smaller and quicker defensive lineman.
Ulizio's ability to block in space should be a plus in Harbaugh's pull-heavy offense whether he ends up at tackle or guard.
That's about it as far as available scouting goes. Brian and I talked to 247's Steve Lorenz this morning for a podcast segment, and he mentioned that the coaches liked Ulizio's mean streak and feel for the game when breaking down his film. While Ulizio went largely unnoticed by both recruiting services and major college programs, M's coaches seem to be seeing something others aren't—they offered Ulizio over more heralded options Sam Madden and David Moorman, both of whom have displayed interest in Michigan.
Ulizio's offer sheet included UConn, Cincinnati, Kentucky, and Pitt.
Lakota West has a couple other solid 2015 prospects in four-star LB CJ Stalker (Virginia commit) and three-star OT George Asafo-Adjei (Kentucky). They've produced a few Ohio State commits, most notably four-star 2007 DE Soloman Thomas, a couple four-stars who ended up at Kentucky, and 2010 five-star LB Jordan Hicks, who ended up at Texas. Current Alabama starting center Ryan Kelly is another Lakota West product.
No stats for O-linemen. Ulizio was named second-team AP All-Southwest District as a senior.
FAKE 40 TIME
None listed, FAKE or otherwise.
Junior highlights and single-game reels can be found on his Hudl page.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
The evidence here is certainly flimsy, though you can see on Ulizio's film how he'd be a fit in Harbaugh's offense—he does well pulling into space, ID'ing his target, and locking on, and he finishes his blocks with authority. He looks like he could find a home at guard or right tackle.
Whether he ends up at tackle or guard, Ulizio will certainly take a redshirt this fall before trying to work his way up the depth chart. Based on the current roster, the earliest it's realistic for Ulizio to compete for a starting role would be when he's a redshirt sophomore, after Ben Braden and Erik Magnuson have graduated.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
Ulizio fills a major need along the offensive line. Steve indicated that Michigan is likely done with offensive line recruiting for the class, though with the relative lack of linemen in the last couple classes—exascerbated by Mason Cole not taking a redshirt year—it wouldn't be a bad idea to take one more.
Michigan now has nine members of a 2015 class that could reach 16 or 17 total. Current needs include wide receiver, tight end, defensive end, linebacker, and cornerback; if the numbers work out, M could also pursue running back and safety prospects, and they're pushing for a commitment from fullback/H-back Reagan Williams, a Stanford commit who took an official this weekend.
Jim Harbaugh has pulled in his first commitment at Michigan's head coach tonight, as 247's Steve Lorenz is reporting three-star FL DE Reuben Jones decided to pledge while on his official visit. Jones had been committed to Nebraska until this week, when he received a visit from Harbaugh, scheduled his official, and promptly decommited from the Huskers. He's now the seventh commit in Michigan's class of 2015, and the only DE in the class.
|3*, #145 DE||3*, #27 SDE||3*, 78, #58 DE||3*, 83, #64 SDE||
3*, #44 SDE,
Post now informatively updated.
The services are consistent in ranking Jones as a three-star well off the four-star radar. All but Rivals (6'4", 225) list him at 6'3", 223 pounds. While that's undersized for a traditional defensive end, Jones is likely ticketed for the hybrid WDE/OLB spot in DJ Durkin's defense, which will feature both three- and four-lineman alignments.
Jones didn't garner much attention as a recruit until his high school hosted a Rivals camp in the spring after his sophomore season. He impressed in a crowded field, finishing as the #2 2015 defensive performer behind only five-star Byron Cowart ($):
Playing on his home field, Jones was one of the surprise performers of the day. With terrific speed and a slender but surprisingly strong frame, the 6-foot-3 Jones was nearly unstoppable in one-on-ones. Not only did he win his first three reps, but he continued to step up and challenge all comers from the offensive line position.
At the very same event last May, Jones again played on a level comparable to much higher-ranked prospects ($):
Jones is a slim, wiry defensive end, but his slight frame didn't stop him from being one of the best defensive linemen in attendance. He has long arms and he's surprisingly strong. His long reach, combined with his quick feet, helps him knock bigger, slower offensive linemen off balance. If it weren't for the pair of five-stars in attendance, Jones may have walked way with MVP honors for his efforts.
ESPN's evaluation could easily be confused for that of a five-star. They praise his size/athleticism combo, call him "a dominant pass-rusher" and a "no quit defensive end," and had this to say about his run defense ($):
Is quick to read and react when defending against the inside and outside run; can play with strength at the point of attack, shedding blockers, fighting pressure and working back to the football; this guy doesn't get stuck on blocks. Displays the initial quickness needed to beat blockers across the line and make plays opposite his alignment. Can neutralize the edge block, play through traffic and flatten to the sideline.
They even praise his pad level! Then they ranked him as the #58 defensive end in the country. I'm confused, too.
After Jones committed to Nebraska in November, Big Red Report had a very positive evaluation of his film ($):
Jones plays in an attacking style defensive line and is best suited for one at the next level. He lines up at a couple of different spots and has an impact at both spots. He has an impact running at him, he has an impact running away from him. He also has an impact in the passing game getting to the quarterback, batting down passes when he can’t get to the quarterback and even chases down the receiver 60 yards downfield.
247's Clint Brewster broke down Jones' film and pointed out why he isn't considered a blue chip recruit:
Jones’ effort and toughness on the field are special, which makes him a big time recruit. He doesn’t give up on plays and shows he can make tackles well down the field. Jones’ isn’t a very highly ranked player because of his lack of ideal size at the position and he’s still raw from a technical standpoint. Solid speed once he gets going but by no means does he have great speed.
Finally, Jones' coach weighed in on how he improved over the course of his high school career after he committed to Nebraska ($):
"Probably just in being patient," Coach DeMyer responded when asked where Jones has made the most progress over the past four years. "He's always played 100 miles per hour, but this year he has learned to be a little more patient where he used to run by stuff too fast and people would change direction on him.
"This year he is still playing with a lot of speed, but he's doing a lot better job in redirecting and knowing more about the offenses he is facing. He's been watching a lot more film and knowing which guys can do what."
Jones seems to have a lower ceiling than some other DE prospects because of his size—he'll probably top out around 6'3", 260—but he looks like a player who'll could make an impact as a situational pass-rusher who could develop into something more down the road.
Jones held offers from Cincinnati, Duke, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Iowa State, Kentucky, Louisville, Michigan State, Mizzou, Nebraska, Purdue, UCF, USF, Syracuse, Temple, Wake Forest, and West Virginia, among others.
Lakeland (FL) Lake Gibson produced a recent Michigan starter in lineman Ricky Barnum. They've produced their fair share of FBS prospects over the years, most notable among them Bilal Powell, the former Louisville standout and current New York Jets running back.
Per Rivals, Jones recorded 71 tackles, 14 TFLs, and ten sacks as a senior.
FAKE 40 TIME
ESPN and 247 both list a 40 time of 4.89, which gets a mere two FAKEs out of five.
Single-game reels from his junior and senior seasons can be found on his Hudl page.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
Jones could be in line for early playing time due to Michigan's scant depth chart at defensive end; at the moment, there are just four DEs—senior Mario Ojemudia, junior Taco Charlton, redshirt sophomore Henry Poggi, and redshirt freshman Lawrence Marshall—on the roster.
Ideally, Jones would get a redshirt year to bulk up, though we'll see if he's afforded that luxury given the lack of bodies at the position. While he may not develop into an NFL prospect due to his size, he's got the chance to be a quality player thanks to his quick first step, strength, and high motor.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
Jones is the seventh commit in the 2015 class (since this first posted, Zach Gentry became the eighth), and he's unlikely to be the last defensive end commit—Wisconsin commit Jake Pickard is currently on campus and there are rumblings he's likely to join the class, and Michigan hosted Shelton Johnson last weekend. Given the depth chart, they could definitely use another DE.
It's reasonable to expect this class to finish with 16-17 prospects, leaving 8-9 spots left with Gentry also in the fold. Michigan is pursuing several cornerbacks; they could also use help at running back, wide receiver, tight end, offensive line, linebacker, and safety.
They played their asses off.
Despite Derrick Walton's tying three-pointer in the waning moments of the second half, Michigan couldn't quite pull off a colossal upset against Wisconsin. The ovation from the Crisler Center crowd after the game said it all, though—the fight was well worth the price of admission.
As early as the opening five minutes—in which time Michigan had fallen behind 7-2, their only bucket an implausible Spike Albrecht floater—there were any number of opportunities for the team to pack it in. After all, Albrecht was occasionally defending Wisconsin's superstar seven-footer, Frank Kaminsky, as Michigan frequently switched on defense in a sometimes comical effort to slow him down.
When Wisconsin went on a quick 9-0 run to end the half up seven, it felt like the excitement was over. Ditto when Sam Dekker extended that lead to 11 with an uncontested dunk four minutes into the second, prompting a Michigan timeout. After the Wolverines fought back to tie on a run sparked by the unlikely trio of Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman, Mark Donnal, and Kameron Chatman, the Badgers landed another series of blows, going up by as much as seven and maintaining the edge until the final moments of regulation.
But Michigan never quit. Walton charged to the hoop time and again, absorbing hit after hit to get to the line; he'd finish with 17 points, going 7/8 from the line. Adbur-Rahkman turned in his finest performance in a Michigan uniform, scoring nine (3/4 FG), playing solid defense, and keeping a couple crucial loose balls alive.
Walton took full control at the end of the half. With M down four and 0:31 on the clock, Josh Gasser missed the front end of a one-and-one, and Walton quickly capitalized with a Euro-step layup through contact. After Bronson Koenig split a pair of free throws, Walton sunk two of his own. Koenig went back to the line, this time drilling both with ten seconds remaining.
At first it appeared Aubrey Dawkins would be forced into a heavily contested heave over two defenders; instead, he dropped a nifty pass to Walton as he found an opening and swished home the tying triple. Crisler got as loud as it's been all season.
Kaminsky dominated the overtime session, opening it with an and-one on Ricky Doyle; he'd score eight points in the decisive period. That Michigan made it that far at all, though, felt like a win in and of itself. They've been written off by just about everyone since Caris LeVert went down for the season, but tonight they showed that when they're on their game, they can hang with the very best in the conference.
He added an 85-yarder two minutes later.
Michigan just pulled in their second commit of the night, and it's a big one. Four-star NM QB Zach Gentry decided to flip from his prior Texas commitment at halftime of tonight's Wisconsin game, per multiple outlets. Gentry is the eighth commit in the class, joining Alex Malzone—who's already enrolled—among 2015 quarterbacks.
4*, #19 QB,
4*, #4 P-QB,
4*, 83, #9 P-QB,
|3*, 88, #16 P-QB||
4*, #8 P-QB,
Full, informative update coming later.
Every time I see a redshirt sophomore just emerging for his team this year I think about Michigan's own class of 2012. For the end of the Northwestern game, with Spike sick and LeVert down one ankle, the Wolverines were without every single guy from one of the best recruiting classes in basketball history.
If this was the NBA Michigan could tank the rest of the season and add a lottery pick to the lineup next year. Since this is college ball, we ought to remind ourselves that every sophomore guard isn't going to be Trey Burke, every freshman center isn't going to be capable of replacing a frontcourt of McGary/Morgan/Horford, and luck swings.
Michigan will be back to not fearing the cheese things. At least now we know all about the other players in the league. Let's make some money with that.
CBB $6.5k Mini Storm the Court
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Michigan (12-7, 5-2 B1G) vs
Wisconsin (17-2, 5-1)
Ann Arbor, Michigan
|WHEN||7 pm ET, Saturday|
|LINE||Wisconsin -8 (KenPom)|
PBP: Dan Shulman
Analyst: Jay Bilas
THE SCARILY ON-POINT EMAIL
From a reader, who attached the photo on the right:
Bo Ryan is some sort of evil immortal god, who took the identity, for a time of a masochistic German psychiatrist, Johann Christian Reil, who was into, among other things, pouring hot wax on mental patients, placing them in tubs of live eels, and playing the cat organ.
Yeah, this checks out.
Beating Wisconsin would qualify as an upset, even at home. Should Michigan pull it off, they'd move ahead of the Badgers by virtue of having an extra win in hand, and could take first place in the Big Ten if Indiana falls at Ohio State on Sunday.
THE LINEUP CARD
Projected starters are in bold. Hover over headers for stat explanations. The "Should I Be Mad If He Hits A Three" methodology: we're mad if a guy who's not good at shooting somehow hits one. Yes, you're still allowed to be unhappy if a proven shooter is left open. It's a free country.
|G||24||Bronson Koenig||So.||6'4, 190||55||14||No|
|Low usage, very efficient PG. Has been on fire in B1G play (70% eFG).|
|G||21||Josh Gasser||Sr.||6'4, 192||74||12||No|
|DEATH TO BACKBOARDS|
|F||15||Sam Dekker||Jr.||6'9, 230||69||23||No|
|Improved as shooter, now very efficient as #2 option.|
|F||10||Nigel Hayes||So.||6'8, 235||79||20||No|
|Excellent rebounder, nice touch around hoop, now has 3-pt range.|
|C||44||Frank Kaminsky||Sr.||7'0, 234||72||28||No|
|1st in KenPom POY race. Nightmare matchup, can score in post or bomb threes.|
|F||13||Duje Dukan||Sr.||6'10, 218||42||20||No|
|Solid inside/outside threat. Not nearly as good a rebounder as Kaminsky.|
|F||30||Vitto Brown||So.||6'8, 237||21||20||Very|
|Good rebounder, not a huge offensive threat.|
|G||3||Zak Showalter||So.||6'2, 185||14||21||Yes|
|Not much of a shooter or passer, but bizarrely good rebounder for small G.|
Wisconsin has lost just two games this year, one at home to Duke on a night when the Blue Devils looks unbeatable, the other on the road to... Rutgers. In fairness, the latter occurred while Frank Kaminsky was briefly sidelined, but it's still one of the strangest results of this season.
The Badgers have tallied nine wins against top-100 KenPom squads, including a 13-point neutral court handling of #10 Oklahoma. Eight of their wins have come by 20 points or more, including Tuesday's 82-50 thrashing of #44 Iowa. They've ranked in between #4 and #6 on KenPom the entire season, and currently sit at #5.
In short, they're really good.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the preview.]