Mount St. Mary's hired a private equity CEO to be their president. You'll never guess what happened next.
— 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.
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.
photos via 247Sports
As much of the Michigan media assembled in the Regents Room to hear Mark Schlissel announce Dave Brandon's resignation, The Wolverine's Tim Sullivan was doing some work, as well—breaking news of the most oddly timed commitment in recent memory:
Elkton (Md.) Eastern Christian Academy 2016 linebacker @dele_harding commits to Michigan.
— Tim Sullivan (@TimS_Wolverine) October 31, 2014
Junior linebacker Dele' Harding, a high school teammate of current M players Freddy Canteen and Brandon Watson, pledged to the program at the very apex of its turmoil. He became Michigan's third commit in the 2016 class and the first on defense, not to mention the football program's first commit from any class since the day before this ill-fated 2014 season began.
While having two former teammates on campus certainly helped with the decision, the timing and the quotes Harding's father gave to Sullivan make it clear he committed with much more than football in mind:
While [Canteen's and Watson's] presence in Ann Arbor was a bonus for Harding, it wasn't the main reason he picked the Maize and Blue.
"They stay in touch all the time," David Harding said. "That plays a very small part. I think it's more than anything, that's just an icing on the cake. The body is what Michigan has to offer. His commitment is to the university, not just for football. It's the total package."
Welcome, Mr. Harding. You picked a mighty fine university, and they're really working quite hard to figure out the football bit.
[Hit THE JUMP for the full, informative portion.]
2015 Lincolnton (NC) DL Darian Roseboro committed to Michigan in a ceremony broadcast on ESPN.com this afternoon, choosing the Wolverines out of a final six that also included Alabama, Clemson, NC State, North Carolina, and Tennessee. Roseboro is slated to play strongside defensive end, though there's a good possibility he ends up at defensive tackle; either way, he's the first of Michigan's 11 commits in the class who will play on the defensive line.
4*, #14 DT,
4*, #6 DT,
4*, 82, #20 DT,
4*, 93, #6 SDE,
4*, #7 SDE,
Roseboro is comfortably within the top 200 overall prospects on every site, and Rivals—notably, the most recent to update their rankings—provides a very positive outlier, ranking him 42nd among all 2015 prospects. All but 247, which lists him as a strongside DE, consider him a defensive tackle prospect.
That's probably because Rosoboro is a very big guy. He's listed at either 6'3" or 6'4" and 283-293 pounds on the recruiting services; the general consensus has him at 6'4", 285 or so.
[After THE JUMP: scouting and such]
Presumably after crossing the goal line [via 247]
If you missed the news last night, four-star Cass Tech running back Mike Weber committed to Michigan, and the way it went down instantly found its rightful place in Hilarious Recruiting Victories Over Michigan State lore. Weber was slated to visit East Lansing on Wednesday afternoon; instead, this happened:
“The environment and the way I felt about it when I was down there, and the way they see me in the backfield, and having a degree from Michigan would set me up, and having my whole family be able to come watch me, I just made the move,” Weber reeled off.
Weber instead visited Michigan after "oversleeping," and missing his trip to East Lansing.
The quotation marks make that last statement 1000 times better.
The commitment capped a huge effort on Michigan's part to get back into Weber's good graces—spearheaded by Doug Nussmeier, Chris Singletary, and Alex Malzone—over the last several months. The Spartans led the way for much of that span, but in the end the U-M coaches made Weber feel like he was their top priority at running back, which Weber justifiably felt he wasn't when Damien Harris was the main focus at the position.
In the last couple weeks, Michigan's secured the top two 2015 in-state recruits—receiver Brian Cole being the other—both of whom were considered Spartan leans for quite some time. Let's check in with the RCMB...
Don't be so hard on yourself, JARGON. I'm sure you'll get that fifth star before long.
4*, #13 RB,
4*, #10 RB,
4*, 82, #14 RB,
4*, 94, #13 RB,
4*, #14 RB,
There's a pretty solid consensus on Weber's talent, as all four sites have him in the 10-14 range on their running back position rankings and well within the top 200 overall prospects.
They're also in relative agreement about his size, listing him at either 5'9" or 5'10" and 205-210 pounds. He measured in at 5'10", 205 at a recent Rivals camp; he's very much got the compact, sturdy frame of a running back.
Weber came to Cass Tech with high expectations after an outstanding youth football career, but had to wait to make an impact after losing his freshman season to injury. That impact would come as a sophomore in 2012, when he passed older, more experienced backs Deon Drake and Gary Hosey to earn the bulk of the carries for the Technicians. Despite being limited by a hamstring injury early in the season, he'd rush for 1700 yards and 21 TDs, then led the way in Cass Tech's second straight state title game victory over Catholic Central:
Running back [Mike] Weber came into his own for Cass Tech, amassing 186 yards on 20 carries and helping the Technicians to keep the ball and clock moving throughout the second half. Weber averaged 9.3 yards per rush and Catholic Central never seemed to find a solution for him.
The highlights from that game, which feature several current or future Wolverines, show off Weber's ability to turn the corner:
Weber's scouting reports are remarkably in line with each other, calling him a well-rounded back who can play on every down, and while he lacks track star speed or Hyde-ian power he possesses a lot of the same skills as Mike Hart. Here's ESPN's underclassman eval ($):
STRENGTHS: A solid runner with a low center of gravity. Displays the ability to push the pile and gain the tough yards. A powerful back with great playing strength. Runs with good lean and a high knee action allowing him to break arm tackles. Flashes a nice burst and adequate top-end speed. ... AREAS OF IMPROVEMENT: Will benefit from improving elusiveness in the open field and enhancing his playmaking ability. Not a burner that will consistently win footraces against elite opponents. Can be a short stepper with slight hip tension. ... BOTTOM LINE: Weber is an decisive runner with every down potential . A true load carrier type of back who projects well in physical running attack. His short stature and lower body strength are assets.
Scout's profile lists cutback ability, hands, and vision as strengths, with power his lone area to improve, and echoes the "complete back" sentiment:
Weber is a compact back who runs with good patience. He is a slasher with a good burst and good acceleration. He catches the ball well out of the backfield and also does a nice job in pass protection. He has run largely out of the shotgun in high school and would have to adjust if he goes to more of a traditional I-form team in college. He's shown the ability to run between the tackles but is not a true power back. - Allen Trieu
Trieu elaborated on Weber's running ability in Scout's free commitment capsule:
As far as long speed, he may not be a 4.3 type track star, but is capable of running away from defenders and getting the corner. However, he's at his best between the tackles. ... While he may not be known as a power back, he runs hard, runs with attitude and finishes his runs. In the open field, he's more of a straight ahead guy than a make you miss type elusive runner.
247's Clint Brewster also says that Weber doesn't quite possess that extra gear in the open field, saying instead that he has "more deceptive speed," and he agrees with Trieu that Weber's power is overlooked ($):
Weber has a sense of urgency, as he presses the line of scrimmage but also has the vision to find the cut back lane. He has very good short-area-quickness and can burst through a small crease if space is available. He has great overall strength and can really push the pile. Weber has a good stiff-arm and breaks a lot of tackles. He is always falling forward after a run. Weber has a low center of gravity and does a good job of lowering his pad level to take on blockers and keeps his legs moving to gain extra yards.
Weber's all-around ability surfaced wherever he went, whether playing for Cass Tech or performing against top national competition on the camp circuit. Rivals' Josh Helmholdt named Weber the top offensive performer at last year's Prep Kickoff Classic after he scored twice against a Southfield squad featuring Lawrence Marshall and Malik McDowell ($):
The 5-foot-10, 205-pound Weber picked up where he left off as a sophomore when he was an offensive catalyst for Cass Tech's Division I state title. Weber scored touchdowns on a 30-yard screen pass in the first half and a 16-yard run in the second half. If possible, he looked even more explosive than he did a year ago. Weber has always shown great start-and-stop ability, and he gets to top speed instantly. His size and speed make him a threat between the tackles and on the edge.
After an excellent junior campaign, Weber has really impressed this spring and summer. He was the clear choice for top performer at the RCS Detroit, according to Adam Friedman ($):
Weber was virtually unguardable during the one-on-one period. The Rivals250 member is extremely agile and can change directions on a dime. Weber ran extremely crisp routes and had very good hands. He wasn't afraid to take on the bigger linebackers that tried to knock him off his routes. Weber's ability to turn a short catch into a long reception is outstanding.
That performance eventually earned him the #5 spot on Rivals' list of top running backs at all of their Rivals Camp Series events ($).
Sam Webb was in attendance for The Opening, where Weber once again showed off his versatility ($):
On day one his ability to make moves in the open field was showcased. On day two he showed himself to be a dangerous receiving threat out of the backfield. Early in 7-on-7 action his QBs looked to him only as an outlet. He rewarded them with some chain-moving grabs on swing passes and crossing routes. They ignored him on the wheel-route though, and that was a mistake. Weber ran by safeties all day long on the route but the QB just wouldn’t look his way. He grew increasingly frustrated but never loafed on route. Then finally on one of the late games he broke open down the sideline and Josh Rosen looked in his direction. Rosen laid the ball up perfectly for Mikey to run under and it was hauled in for six.
Scout national analyst Jamie Newberg was duly impressed ($):
“Weber I thought was tremendous,” said Scout national recruiting analyst Jamie Newburg. “I loved him on film. After I got our here, he is more of a compact running back with great explosiveness. Put together a little better than Damien Harris, our number one running back in the country. He catches the ball exceptionally well. He is terrific in space. He is not committed yet, but someone up in the Midwest in Big Ten country is going to get themselves a one heck of a running back. He is ultra quick, very good speed and very versatile, cause obviously he can run and he showed out here he can catch the football.”
I'll give the last word to The Wolverine's Tim Sullivan, who's probably seen Weber in game action more than the rest of these scouts combined (save perhaps Trieu). He believes Weber is an ideal fit for Michigan's offense under Doug Nussmeier ($):
Weber is an outstanding fit for the zone running scheme, a one-cut back who has the acceleration to plant his foot in the turf when he sees a hole and run to daylight. He is a very nice physical specimen - a testament to his natural talent and also his work ethic - who has power and speed. He is still developing a killer's mentality when it comes to running over defenders, but he has enough quickness in the hole and pure speed to make that a less important factor.
To sum it up, Weber is an every-down back who can run outside or between the tackles, possesses the acceleration to get the corner and enough speed to make his share of big plays, isn' t the easiest back to bring down, catches the ball well out of the backfield, and he's a willing blocker to boot. His vision and style should play very well in Michigan's zone running scheme, as well.
Weber held offers from Illinois, Kentucky, Miami (YTM), Michigan State, NC State, Nebraska, Ohio State, Purdue, Syracuse, Tennessee, USC, and Wisconsin when he pledged to Michigan. Alabama and Notre Dame, among others, reportedly showed interest.
Please don't make me list all the Cass Tech people.
According to 247, Weber rushed for 1700 yards and 21 touchdowns as a sophomore, then followed that up with 1659 yards and 24 scores in 2013.
FAKE 40 TIME
Rivals hand-timed (I believe) Weber at 4.47 seconds in the 40 at one of their camps, which gets three FAKEs out of five; since it's a hand time, add a tenth of a second or two and you're probably in the right range.
Sophomore reel that leans too heavily on slow-mo but I'm a sucker for a highlight tape soundtracked by M83:
Single-game cut-ups of Weber's performance last season against Southfield, courtesy of Maize & Blue News:
His between-the-tackles burst is really impressive.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
Weber should be afforded a redshirt year with Justice Hayes, Derrick Green, De'Veon Smith, Ty Isaac, Drake Johnson, and Ross Douglas all possessing at least a year of eligibility left when he gets on campus; that is, if he doesn't earn a spot in the running back rotation right away, which wouldn't be unusual for a freshman with his talent level.
By his second year on campus, he should be competing for carries, and by 2017—when Green and Smith will have exhausted their eligibility, as well as Hayes the year prior—he'll be in the mix for a starting role; he'll be the presumed starter if Ty Isaac gets a waiver to play this fall, though that seems unlikely. Even if Isaac sits out this year, Weber is a different type of back and should garner plenty of playing time before taking over the starting roll full-time as an upperclassman.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
Weber is Michigan's 10th commit in the 2015 class and the lone running back in the group. We're projecting three open spots right now, with defensive end, outside linebacker, and perhaps another offensive linemen presenting the biggest areas of need. CA WDE Keisean Lucier-South, NC SDE Darian Roseboro, and IN OLB Asmar Bilal are probably the top prospects on Michigan's board at the moment.