"Rodrick Williams Jr.'s 10-month old, 2-foot-long savannah monitor named "Kill" gets the RB some strange looks when they go for walks together."
The first rule of Draftageddon is "you must complain about Draftageddon." The second is "the four people drafting assemble teams of Big Ten players in an effort to seem the best at drafting."
Previously on Draftageddon:
- Adam takes a guy with a ~33% chance to start first overall! Joey Bosa lasts until pick 3! Seth is generally sensible! For him that counts as Heiko-ing, I think!
ACE: Round 4, Pick 2: Jack Conklin, OT, MSU
OFFENSE: WR Michael Thomas (OSU), OT Jack Conklin (MSU)
DEFENSE: DE Joey Bosa (OSU), OLB Darron Lee (OSU)
Michigan State has assembled a strong offensive line, finishing 7th in adjusted sack rate and 28th in adjusted line yards last year, and the strongest piece of that line is left tackle Jack Conklin, who went from recruiting unknown to a possible franchise tackle:
It has been well-documented that Cook and Calhoun might have been first-round picks had they declared for the upcoming draft, but according to Kiper, the same might have been true about the less-heralded Conklin.
"I think he's a first-round caliber, yes I do,'' Kiper said on his Wednesday conference call, asked about Conklin's upside. "I think Brandon Scherff from Iowa, not much separating Scherff from Conklin, and some may even think that Conklin is a more highly rated player.
"(Conklin) was on my radar because I thought maybe he'll come out, because he has such a high grade, but by going back, you're looking at an elite of the elite. Jack Conklin has a chance to be a very very high first round pick, certainly the first offensive tackle off the board.''
The former walk-on has allowed only 2.5 sacks in his 27 career games, which include 23 consecutive starts at LT. Ohio State's fearsome pass rush produced just one sack against MSU last year; that came from DT Michael Bennett. Only Baylor DE/Terminator Shawn Oakman gave Conklin much in the way of trouble last season, and nobody else's team in this exercise has a Shawn Oakman, let alone a Joey Bosa.
SETH: Round 4, Pick 3: Leonte Carroo, WR, Rutgers
OFFENSE: QB Connor Cook (MSU), RB Corey Clement (WIS), WR Leonte Carroo (Rut)
DEFENSE: HSP Jabrill Peppers (Mich)
I'm going off the premise that I'm being judged on what Carroo accomplishes with Connor Cook throwing to him. But it's not like any of the 94 targets he turned into 1,086 yards and 10 touchdowns were made easy by Gary Nova.
There are two schools of thought on the "Carroo did a lot of that on broken plays" theory. Ace gave you one. Here's another: behind a turnstile offensive line, Gary FRIGGIN NOVA was the third most efficient passer in the Big Ten last year, in large part because running around like Miley Cyrus then chucking it at Carroo and three defenders was a totally efficient thing to do.
I scouted this guy for last year's draft because Bill Connelly's targeting (YPT, NEY, RYPR) stats made Carroo pop out among the conference's best. I didn't end up taking Leonte then because the majority of his yards were against lightweights. Carroo still torched bad defenses (151 yards vs. WSU, 140 on Tulane, 125 on Indiana) in 2014, but also had 84 yards on 6 catches while matched against Jordan Lucas, 5 for 100 against Doran Grant, and 6 for 104 on Will Likely. Trae Waynes got the better of him (1 catch for 6 yards on 5 targets); Michigan stuck a safety over him and got bombed everywhere else. He finished top 10 in the country in all three of Connelly's imperfect metrics, indistinguishable from Lippett.
Michael Thomas is an excellent Avant; Carroo as a junior was more comparable to Braylon at his age (67 catches, 1035 yards 10 TDs). Yes, with the occasional drops. Still a highly dangerous weapon I didn't think would slip to me.
ADAM: Round 4, Pick 4: Jordan Westerkamp, WR, Nebraska
Round 5, Pick 1: Jason Spriggs, OT, Indiana
Westerkamp is suspended for the first game for tying a damsel to some train tracks
OFFENSE: QB J.T. Barrett (OSU), WR Jordan Westerkamp (Neb), OT Jason Spriggs, (IU)
DEFENSE: DE Shilique Calhoun (MSU), DT Adolphus Washington (OSU)
Westerkamp is best known for the time he hauled in a catch that looked like a Madden glitch, but there's more substance to him. His 65.7% catch rate and 11.1 yards per target are both better than oft-targeted (25.6% of passes) former teammate Kenny Bell's 54.0% catch rate and 9.1 YPT. Westerkamp was targeted on just 19.7% of Nebraska's passes, but that will rise due to the departure of the poofily coiffed hair and production of Bell. (I realize his hair had nothing to do with how often Westerkamp got the ball, but it's impossible to write about Kenny Bell and not mention the hair.) While Bell was more frequently targeted than Westerkamp on passing downs (25.6% to 17.1%, respecitvely), Westerkamp again had the better catch rate (60.7%) and YPT (14.0); even when defenses had an idea where the ball was going Westerkamp was able to put up good numbers. I'll happily take a guy who has a better catch rate and YPT than a fifth-round draft pick who was first-team All-Big Ten last season.
If the ball is ever going to get to Westerkamp there should probably be an offensive line, and Spriggs is arguably the best available with Decker and Conklin off the board. Spriggs has started at left tackle since he was a true freshman, earning honorable mention All-Big Ten status every season. He's 6-7, 305 and has anchored a line that has averaged more than five yards per carry the last two seasons. While that number was certainly aided by Tevin Coleman, Spriggs' pass protection is an asset. He'll give up two sacks as he does every year and I'll be happy to have one of the top-10 tackles in the 2016 draft. Also:
#iufb OT Jason Spriggs #'s Are NFL Combine Top of the Charts - 40: 4.82 / Vertical: 37.5" / Bench: 455 / 225 Bench: 33 Reps / Clean 365 etc.
— Kevin Wilson (@IUCoachWilson) March 26, 2015
[After THE JUMP: No more Ohio State players! That's right, not even one!]
Ricky Doyle played up to the competition. [Fuller]
While our attention has, for the most part, turned to football in the offseason, a new KenPom feature has me digging back into hoops. On individual player pages, KenPom now displays split stats for performaces against (1) conference opponents, (2) games against top-100 opponents, adjusted for game location, and (3) games against top-50 opponents, with the same home-court adjustment.
This is a very useful tool for parsing out how well players did against better competiton. Michigan's big man situation continues to fascinate me, so I thought it'd be useful to see how last year's troika performed against the best teams on the schedule, especially since the disparity in big man quality tends to be large between bad teams and good teams. While KenPom hasn't yet separated out stats for non-top-100 opponents (consider this a humble suggestion from a mathematically challenged blogger), we can get a baseline by looking at each player's full stat line from last season.
|Ricky Doyle||43.7||17.9||117.4||10.4||11.9||12.0||2.6||4.0||39-66 (59%)||72-119 (61%)||0-0|
|Max Bielfeldt||34.2||22.3||107.2||12.4||19.5||13.7||1.9||3.8||22-32 (69%)||54-99 (55%)||8-30 (27%)|
|Mark Donnal||22.3||17.0||119.6||10.2||16.1||9.6||3.8||6.4||19-27 (70%)||25-44 (57%)||7-19 (37%)|
And now, each player's stats against only top-50 opponents. This covers 13 games from last season; Ricky Doyle and Max Bielfeldt played in all 13, while Mark Donnal participated in 11 of them.
|Ricky Doyle||51.4||15.5||117.7||8.3||13.5||12.6||2.2||3.8||16-25 (64%)||33-55 (60%)||0-0|
|Max Bielfeldt||32.7||22.9||91.8||8.7||21.9||16.7||2.1||4.6||8-11 (73%)||19-38 (50%)||3-14 (21%)|
|Mark Donnal||17.0||20.6||128.2||13.9||7.3||3.6||4.0||8.4||7-11 (64%)||12-22 (55%)||2-6 (33%)|
The above helps clarify why John Beilein was comfortable letting Bielfeldt go despite having the opportunity to bring him back. A few takeaways:
Doyle held strong. Doyle's offensive numbers stayed almost exactly the same against top-50 competition; his shooting held at 60%, he took care of the ball, and he allowed the offense to run through the guards/wings. While his offensive rebounding dipped, he still did pretty well in that regard. Equally as encouraging was his ability to hold up defensively; Doyle's foul rate stayed level and he took on a larger share of rebounding duties against top teams.
Bielfeldt's shortcomings became apparent. Bielfeldt proved effective against mid- and lower-tier teams in large part because he dominated the offensive glass, providing himself with easy putback opportunties. Against top-tier teams, however, his offensive rebounding fell off dramatically, his turnover rate rose, and he didn't have a post game or reliable outside shot to make up for either.
Bielfeldt also resorted to fouling more on defense. He was clearly overmatched on that end against high-level competition and that took him out of games even when he had it going offensively; for example, he had nine points on 4-6 shooting in the home overtime loss to Wisconsin but picked up three fouls in 14 minutes because he couldn't defend Frank Kaminsky or Nigel Hayes.
Donnal showed promise on one end. Donnal's decreased role as the season wore on means his sample size is smaller than the others—he essentially played two games worth of minutes against top-50 teams, and he did so in short stints. Those short stints weren't always by design. Donnal was foul-prone in the best of times but especially against good teams; yes, that 8.4 fouls/40 minutes figure is real and speaks to some major defensive shortcomings that were apparent to anyone who watched him play.
There's hope in the offensive numbers, however. Donnal was... good? Again, the tiny sample size makes it hard to draw grand conclusions here, but his rebounding rate and shooting numbers are encouraging.
With a bulked-up DJ Wilson—listed at 6'9, 240 on the updated roster—set to bolster depth up front, it makes sense for Beilein to prioritize developing Donnal and Wilson into reliable options instead of giving significant minutes to a redshirt senior whose limitations become very apparent in the most important games. With a year of development under Ricky Doyle's belt and a logjam at the four, Michigan may only need one of those two to play a major role off the bench anyway.
Hello Kip. Harbaugh Twitter Summer continues unabated.
— Maurice Hurst Jr (@BigPappi73) July 21, 2015
This fall Gedeon answers press conference questions by saying things are getting pretty serious and stating that he loves technology. Bank on it.
Finally. #M00N makes Erase This Game. The Funchess butt fumble is not even mentioned. That's how #M00N #M00N was.
M00N is a sad game, and some of that tragedy comes from the advantage of hindsight. Winning didn't save Michigan's season or Brady Hoke's job, as they followed this with a home finale loss to Maryland. Losing didn't inspire Northwestern to a turnaround; even though they beat Notre Dame a week later, the Wildcats missed bowl eligibility by losing to a depleted Illinois team in their last game. That's the bad news.
The good news is every astronaut gets astronaut ice cream. Let's check out today's flavors.
I have been eating Cookies 'N Ennui for a long time now.
Okay. Former TE/DE Keith Heitzman is at Ohio for his final year of eligibility. The Dispatch has an article that's trying to rake up some muck on a standard practice in college:
Keith Heitzman understood that big changes were in order after Jim Harbaugh was hired to replace Brady Hoke as Michigan football coach just hours before the New Year.
What staggered Heitzman was that he might have been one of those changes. Every player going into his fifth year of eligibility, he was told, would have to audition for his job during spring practices.
Heitzman, degree in hand, opted out. That's fine for him and fine for Michigan.
The worst thing you can pin on Harbaugh is a lack of tact. We will put this evidence of Harbaugh's lack of tact in the extradimensional bag of holding. There it can mingle with its fellows and not fill the universe stem to stern.
For perspective, over the years I've read plenty of articles that reference Notre Dame's policy in this department. They come at it from the other direction, wondering not who might be departing but who might be coming back:
The future for the remaining 14 seniors on the roster, all of whom are eligible for a fifth year, is less certain. … At the most, half of them will return. Notre Dame’s 2015 recruiting class sits at 21 verbal commitments, which, if all 21 sign letters of intent in February, will give the Irish 78 scholarship players of the 85 the NCAA allows.
All of ND's seniors walk on senior day, even if they have another year of eligibility. That's how much of a non-story this is.
"It happens," said the jaded boat owner. SCUFFLE KERFUFFLE ON THE WATER
The Border Battle played a role in getting two people arrested and locked up at the Ottawa County Jail.
A Michigan-Ohio State football argument on the Jet Express allegedly prompted a fight that resulted in assault charges.
Witnesses say the rivalry argument turned physical between two couples with a woman pulling another woman’s hair and the two men throwing punches at each other.
1. The "Jet Express" is so well known in Ottawa County that there is no explanation of what it is. There is a picture of a boat.
I assume it's the boat. Ottawa County readers are boggling at my ignorance right now. The Jet Express is Ottawa County.
2. This was undoubtedly issued with a grim sigh.
"It happens,” says Todd Blumensaadt, owner of the Jet Express. “They get very passionate about their teams."
You see a lot of things when you own a boat. Most of them are stupid.
3. This man is either named "Larry Money" or "Larry Mahoney"—the article is uncertain—and has a hot take.
"Sports are good, but when it reaches that point, obviously it's way overboard."
Good point, Larry Money Mahoney. OR SHOULD I CALL YOU ADAM MONEY JACOBI?
4. Ace grabbed a "Money" Mahoney screenshot:
Is he Carl Monday's brother? That's not generally how names work but we've already established that Gary Money Mahoney is not beholden to your "rules" about nomenclature, man.
5. This reporter may have had to scrounge up quotes for this dumb story, wondering the whole time how she was ever going to pay off her Princeton J-school student loans, but at least she's not working for Gawker.
6. I may have spent too much time on this.
1977 pep rally. Featuring Bo! He guarantees a win! They burn an OSU player in effigy! They wear 70s clothes! The reporter's jacket!
Michigan won 14-6. Harbaugh was probably at the pep rally and knew Bo had zero basis for getting mad at him when he issued his guarantee.
Surprise. That CSG survey they did in the middle of the general admission fiasco makes the WSJ because it appears to be the first serious attempt to figure out what the kids actually want at football games. A company has just confirmed that with a much larger survey that somehow surprises the author:
The most recent support for this surprising result comes from a new survey by the National Association of Collegiate Marketing Administrators and Oregon’s sports marketing center. It asked almost 24,000 students across the country to rank the factors that influenced their decision to attend games. By far the most important was a student’s interest in that sport. By far the least important was a stadium’s cellular reception or wireless capability.
The study is so counterintuitive that it seems like it must be an outlier—except that it is supported by similar polls in places where college football is massively popular.
At Michigan, when the student government asked undergraduates why they go to football games, what they found clashed with conventional wisdom: Michigan’s students simply didn’t care that much about mobile connectivity. In-game Wi-Fi wasn’t as essential as lower ticket prices or better seat locations. Among the seven possible improvements to the game-day experience, in fact, students ranked cell reception last.
I'm not sure where that notion came from, other than the sort of gentleman who talks about social engagement and uses hashtags# like coffee dad. And it's not like they even fixed mobile connectivity at Michigan despite thinking that was the most important thing they could do.
Gonna get paid. I don't think Jim Delany has much to do with it, but Lost Letterman points out that the Big Ten is likely to get paid when their contract—the last to get renegotiated for a long time—comes up:
Since launching FOX Sports 1 two summers ago, FOX has been waiting for its chance to put a huge monkey wrench in ESPN’s world dominance of sports. This is that chance.
The Big 10’s 10-year, $1 billion contract with ESPN and six-year, $72 million deal with CBS for select basketball games and six-year, $145 million pact for the Big 10 Championship Game all expire after the 2016-17 season and a new, gargantuan deal will be struck within the next 12 months.
The only two legitimate TV players for the conference’s Tier 1 football rights (best games) are Disney (ABC/ESPN) and FOX, as CBS already has the Tier 1 rights to the SEC and NBC is content airing Notre Dame home games.
The only thing we know for certain is that the Big 10 is about to get paid.
Delany will get the credit for being the camel herder who sat down on this particular patch of oil again, when literally anyone could sit in a room and watch FOX and ESPN go blow for blow. The Big Ten will use this money to hire more MAC coaches.
Best make your money now, though: ESPN is 20th(!) on the list of a la carte channels people would pay for. Barking Carnival has an excellent article on the coming cord cutting that touches on points I've made and continues with them.
Etc.: Michigan's schmancy new dorm. When I was in college the dorms were made out of mildew and we liked it. Predicting Michigan's win total with SCIENCE. Extremely early Utah preview from SBN's Ian Boyd. Someone has to make the tough decisions like "let's play a game in Dubai." Harbaugh antics.
Barron – MGoBlog
If nothing else, Kam Chatman’s freshman season reinforced how impressive Glenn Robinson’s career was at Michigan. Chatman, like Robinson, was a highly-touted prospect who was expected to step in and play 30 minutes a night right away; unlike Glenn, Kam struggled mightily and never adjusted to the college game well enough to merit a spot in the rotation. While classmates saw increased minutes after Caris LeVert and Derrick Walton were injured, Kam slowly disappeared, unable to morph Beilein’s malleable “power forward” spot enough to fit his skills.
It was easy to buy in before the season – Chatman and a new big man (Donnal or Doyle) were expected to hold down the front-court, but Doyle, who was far less highly-recruited, outperformed Chatman easily. Beilein’s offensive system is mythologized and Chatman’s struggles can be explained away, but many other Beilein products have excelled at a young age and the four can be simplified to fit Michigan’s needs.
As a lefty at his size, Chatman is a natural fit for the the four – he operates from the right side of the floor (instead of moving left-to-right as a three like Manny Harris or a young Nik Stauskas, for example) and can theoretically cover all variations of the power forward: a swingman, a traditional post,or a designated space-and-shoot big. Michigan’s power forward position has looked different with different players: GRIII was essentially an outlet to finish around the rim, spacing the floor credibly enough to give Burke, Stauskas, and LeVert enough room to operate; Zack Novak was a fellow left-handed player who was basically a guard masquerading as a forward on defense. Unfortunately, Chatman never found a niche or a role, relegating him to the bench.
[Hit THE JUMP]
Well... crap. We have this tradition where we seek to irritate every last one of our readers. We could not do that, but then the readers win. The readers cannot win. We are the only site on the internet. We have them in the palm of our hand. We must crush them.
So let's draftageddon again.
You are not going to be happy about this. Let's just state that going in.
Everyone drafts a team from available Big Ten players consisting of
- A QB, five OL, and six skill players on offense. Usually this breaks down in to a RB, three WR, a TE, and a wild card but things tend to get weird.
- 4 DL, 3 LB, 2 CB, 2 S and one wild card on defense.
- A punter and a kicker.
Standard serpentine fantasy draft.
Once three teams have filled a position group the final team must do so at most three rounds later. This is mostly intended to prevent someone from waiting on a QB until the end of the draft and occasionally results in hilarious things like "Nathan Scheelhaase goes in round 8".
Seth will take an injured Northwestern player over any available Heisman contender.
Everyone will make fun of me for an excellent pick that ends up going in the middle rounds of the NFL draft.
The winner will be the person with the most impressive team.
As randomly determined by RANDOM.ORG the order is
Adam, you are on the clock. BryMac is on the email chain to throw out haymakers randomly.
BRYMAC: KURTIS DRUMMOND
ADAM - Round 1, Pick 1: J.T. Barrett, QB, Ohio State
"Will I even play" is an interesting question to ask the TOP PICK IN THE DRAFT
OFFENSE: JT Barrett (OSU).
ADAM: I'll play Buckeye roulette against my better judgement. Picking a quarterback who has a 33% chance of starting is terrifying for a risk-averse person such as myself, but that 33% is assuming all of OSU's quarterbacks have an equal chance of winning the job.
Braxton Miller returns, but he's coming off of multiple shoulder injuries and already had a tendency to turn into Delmon Young when he had to throw deep. Circling back to the risk-averse thing, that gets a big "nooope" from me. Cardale Jones was superb during OSU's playoff run, but he's reportedly behind Miller and Barrett as of now. Silly though it may be to put much weight on an imaginary July depth chart, it's enough for me to look in a different direction.
That leaves Barrett, who completed 64.6% of his passes while averaging 9.0 YPA. On top of that, he brings the dual threat capabilities I'm looking for; in 2014 he ran 14.25 times per game and averaged 5.49 YPC. Overall, Barrett accounted for 7.78 yards per play while throwing 34 touchdowns and rushing for 11 more. It's easy to see why he was named the 2014 Big Ten Quarterback and Freshman of the Year. Now I just have to hope he actually plays.
SETH - Round 1, Pick 2: Connor Cook, QB, Michigan State
SETH: I am committed to not doing the insane things this year, among which I include filling the most important position with a guy who's 67% likely to not start. And hell, if Cook played for the other rival, maybe we're be talking about the "next Alex Smith" instead of guessing which of the three stooges gets to drive Urban's war machine to New York.
When Connor took over in 2013 the State offense went from laughable to good enough/safe. When they took the apron strings off in the Big Ten Championship, the INT rate went from 1.41% (best in the country) to 2.12% (Tom Brady), while his YPA shot up to eight against Ohio State and Stanford. Yet I remained a skeptic, until Cook repeated those numbers over an entire season, capped by beating Baylor in a shootout. All told, MSU finished 6th nationally last year in pass S&P+, 10th in YPA, and 11th in turnover rate. Everybody else in range ran a vicious spread or had access to elite talent; Cook did this while working for Jim Bollman.
He won't have Lippett to make him look good this year but Cook made even State's pedestrian receivers look Lippett-esque--Keith Mumphery had 11 yards per target last year; Macgarrett Kings had nine. Arm accuracy is merely good, but it's functionally extraordinary because of a lightning release. His legs aren't up to "dual threat" level but they're enough to extends plays, and State even added a zone-read veer to the playbook last year. I think I've found my quarterback. And despite the ugly green/chrome/bronze/hellenistic helmet, I think Harbaugh would approve.
ACE - Round 1, Pick 3: Joey Bosa, DE, Ohio State
Looks like Joe Dirt, plays like Mean Joe Green
DEFENSE: Joey Bosa (OSU).
ACE: With the two elite quarterbacks off the board, assuming Barrett wins the OSU job (which I think he will, or I'd be bringing the snark much more heavily), I'll happily take the guy projected higher on most early NFL draft mocks than he went here. I don't need to spend much time or effort justifying this selection. Bosa had 21 TFLs and 13.5 sacks last season; both marks led the conference by a healthy margin. He earned unanimous first-team All-American honors. A lengthy section of his official OSU profile is dedicated to the 37 points the Buckeyes scored as a result of Bosa forcing or recovering fumbles last year; 30 of those points came after Bosa forced a fumble on the opposing quarterback. He did all this as a true sophomore.
On top of all that, Bosa is a solid run defender, already able to two-gap blockers to shut down rushes to his side. So, sure, I guess I'll build my defense around the best player in the conference.
[After THE JUMP: A lot more Buckeyes. Sorry.]
My Bad, Everyone
The roundtable that went up today featured a writeup on top-100 KS DE Xavier Kelly in which I mentioned Alabama and Michigan were reportedly the two schools standing out to him. I wrote my portion of that post last week. Over the weekend, Kelly visited Georgia for the second time. Michigan's standing isn't as strong in the aftermath, per 247's Kipp Adams ($):
While Kelly feels each of the schools in his top eight have their own unique advantages, he did name a few that are standing out right now.
"I think the three would be Clemson, Georgia, and maybe Michigan," Kelly said. "Alabama is up there too. Nothing is official though."
This could be reading too much into one word, but that "maybe" is ominous.
Dave's roundtable choice is looking much better. Four-star PA TE Naseir Upshur is focused on two schools, according to a source who passed info along to 247's Clint Brewster ($):
"Michigan or Florida State," the source told Wolverine247. "Alabama and Miami are really involved and could make a run but Michigan and Florida State have the best shot. I expect him to be at one of those two schools."
When it comes to FSU-related recruiting news, Brewster's going to get some solid intel; his father, former Minnesota head coach Tim Brewster, is the Noles' O-line coach and recruiting coordinator. In a potentially promising turn of events, Upshur wasn't able to make a previously scheduled visit to Tallahassee last weekend. He's scheduled to visit Ann Arbor for the BBQ on August 2nd with a decision date set for August 8th, though he's waffled a bit on that timeline in recent weeks. If Upshur sticks to that schedule, Michigan is in very good shape.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the roundup.]
Ace: Recruit still on the board you’d most like Michigan to land, not named Rashan Gary?
Ace: I’ll go with four-star KS DE Xavier Kelly. Michigan could use an edge-rushing terror, and while the film (http://www.hudl.com/v/Br2Pb) reveals Kelly will need to develop—he gets by largely on athleticism—it also shows a really impressive athlete; within the first couple minutes, you see a reverse dunk on the hardwood and a downfield catch as a receiver. Scout’s evaluation calls him “a prototype pass-rushing defensive end” and “a freakish athlete with high upside.”
Michigan and Alabama are reportedly the two programs that appear to have the best shot at him right now; several other top programs, including Florida State, Clemson, Oregon, and TCU, are in hot pursuit. While I like commit Ron Johnson’s potential quite a bit, I think he ends up as a strongside DE; Kelly gives Michigan their best shot at landing an elite weakside end, and those two could develop into a pair of very disruptive bookends.
[Jump for ballists]
|West Chester, OH – 6'6" 280|
|Scout||3*, NR overall
|ESPN||3*, NR overall
#68 OT, #25 OH
|24/7||3*, NR overall
#128 OT, #47 OH
|Other Suitors||UConn, Cinci, Kentucky, Pitt|
|Previously On MGoBlog||Hello post from Ace.|
Nolan Ulizio was a bit of a weird pickup even in the context that Michigan acquired him in. That context was a pre-Signing Day scramble after a coach was hired in late December. While that situation often provides opportunities for sleepers, a four star guy had just decommitted from Wisconsin and was all but banging the door down for a Michigan offer; Michigan said nah and swooped in on a guy who was committed to UConn… and also considering Kentucky. Sam Madden ended up at Georgia. Nolan Ulizio is the focus of this post.
That is not a complaint. Far be it from me or anyone short of Steve Hutchinson to question the offensive line bonafides of Jim Harbaugh and Tim Drevno. According to his coach, Drevno likes:
“D.J. called me this morning and said the offensive line coach really, really liked what he saw on film of Nolan and said he fits his scheme. He said he’s really aggressive and plays with a nasty attitude and conceptualizes the game really well.”
His coach's personal take is similar:
"The great part about Nolan is he's a very physical, aggressive player," said Cox. "He plays with a nasty attitude and enjoys being an offensive lineman. … He plays with a chip on his shoulder, he plays to the whistle, and he finishes really really well. Secondly, I think Nolan does a great job of conceptualizing what you're trying to do offensively. He can think on his feet, with the defense a moving object that he reacts to quickly."
When Michigan fans scrambled to Hudl in an effort to see what the coaches saw they saw a guy who put together a nice tape in the top division of Ohio football. I normally dismiss highlight tapes for OL, but you may as well watch this one. There's not a whole lot of scouting on him, and almost all of it was after the fact of his Michigan commitment. On the tape, Ulizio looks mean and agile.
That tape and a major senior-year improvement were enough for a couple of the sites to bump him into quality three-star range. He's only a few slots away from a fourth star on Scout; ESPN has him farther down but still in the "he's got a shot" range. Rivals and 247 not so much.
Some of the disparity comes from the late improvement. Ulizio was not on D-I radars until late in his senior year, when UConn stepped in. Kentucky, Pitt, and Michigan followed relatively quickly afterwards.
Scout was the only site that seemed to think this was coming. They'd already ranked him a high three star by the time of his commitment; other sites' evaluations consisted of shruggie emoticons across the board. Scout's Dave Berk on why they were relatively high on him:
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.
ESPN gave him a courtesy bump and a decent evaluation($):
Possesses very good overall size and may even be little bigger than what is listed. Demonstrates excellent playing strength. … needs to watch pad level as he can set high … Big, physical kid that can deliver a good initial pop and demonstrating a very good lower body strength and knee drive can generate good push. … Can be inconsistent and a beat slow off the ball, but does demonstrate he can use angles well to help him get into position and get the job done. …better football player then he is overall athlete and ceiling may not be real high.
247 with a similar bump:
… good looking frame for an offensive tackle, with solid arm length and wingspan. 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.
Rivals did not move him and had another of their unfortunate articles where they ask Josh Helmholdt about his negative evaluation and Helmholdt spends paragraphs dumping on the kid in defense of his ranking($):
"Honestly I didn't see anything there that would have predicted the offers he's received in the last month or so, from the likes of Michigan and Kentucky. … I have seen his senior film and there are some good plays on there and that's what senior film is supposed to be, it's supposed to be your best plays. When I saw him in a full game setting and the camp setting against other Division I prospects, what we saw out of him was a 2-star level prospect."
Etc., etc. The courtesy bump thing is partially CYA on the part of recruiting services, but it's also partially taking new information into account and reconsidering. Helmholdt does not play that game, for better or worse.
A lack of athleticism is consistently mentioned in the negative areas of Ulizio's scouting reports. I wonder what that even means in the context of an offensive lineman, where functional speed is dictated almost entirely by technique except in rare cases like getting out on screens. If Michigan was going to be outside zone heavy that might be a problem. Since they're not going to be, eh.
Ulizio is a guard or a right tackle down the road, depending on whose take on his feet is correct and how much development Harbaugh and Drevno can drag out of him. This was a guy Michigan chose over not only Madden but in-state three/four star borderline OL David Moorman, so Michigan thinks there's something there even if the recruiting sites are generally skeptical.
Given the track records here, you would be justified to deploy Trust The Coaches. Reading all these exhortations for Ulizio to get lower reminded me of Dann O'Neill, a massively hyped in-state prospect who transferred almost immediately because he was reportedly just about unable to bend his legs. He was an All-MAC player at WMU and had a cup of coffee in the NFL, which just goes to show that nobody ever knows anything about OL. Except maybe Tim Drevno.
Etc.: His commitment announcement is now slightly awkward.
Why Reuben Riley? Riley was a big thumping right tackle with pass protection issues who may have been better off at guard. Riley was considerably more touted out of high school than Ulizio is, but underperformed expectations and was just all right as a college player.
Guru Reliability: Low. Nobody was paying attention to him before the flurry of offers except Scout.
Variance: High. Is OL. Is sleeper OL.
Ceiling: Moderate. I don't know. He's certainly big enough to play. There are many people with reservations. He is OL.
General Excitement Level: Moderate. I like him better than his rankings and offers because of that context he was acquired in, and I like his tape. I wouldn't go so far as to say THESE RANKINGS ARE CRAZY, but when guys rise late as seniors they are often undervalued.
Projection: Is OL and is not Mason Cole, so redshirt. After, could compete at either guard slot or RT. Is OL. Nobody knows.
META: HTTV Stuff
You should have books now. Some of you got more books than you paid for. Many of you waiting on signed copies emailed me asking when that and the t-shirt are coming. Many more have asked how to buy it. I've updated the FAQ.
MADE OF HONOR
Erik_in_Dayton wins Diarist of the Week for nailing the state of Michigan basketball recruiting:
“When you look at what they’ve done with guys like Trey Burke, Darius Morris, and Tim Hardaway, you know this is the place you want to very nearly go to school,” said point guard Trevon Duval of Newark, New Jersey. “I mean, in theory, they could take a guy like me and make me a top five pick.”
Never the bride.
IN A TIME BEFORE TIME HARBAUGH RECRUITED…
Taysom Hill, now BYU Heisman candidate. Alum96 previews the Cougars as a bellwether for the 2015 season.
A TIME WHEN MICHIGAN RAN, AND WE THREW.
Okay, I'm now old enough that people old enough to be classified as adults ask questions about history that I was a part of. This one wanted to know why we threw white goods.
These things were separate, non-overlapping traditions. I was too young to throw a toilet paper roll before they banned that, but was old enough to see it happen and want to try it SOOO BAD. The TP was because touchdowns were rare and worthy of an ad-hoc ticker-tape celebration; the ban was probably wise since cleaning it up, especially on wetter days, led to long, boring delays.
The marshmallows were nicked from other stadiums c.1989, and were still a big thing when I was a student in 98-'01. We mostly threw them at each other, but there were mini-games like trying to get one in opponent bands' sousaphones or the TV crews' parabolic microphones, or lobbing one right in front of their cameras.
There's your act of rebellion if you're looking for one. Remember, even into the 1980s a lot of games weren't televised. Michigan was proud to be on TV way more than most, but every concession made to commercials was resented in the stadium.
But really there was no good reason for the mallows except they're soft and throwable and students like to act goofy. When they installed the field turf in 2003 Lloyd personally asked the students to stop and that was their end. Traditions give college football its all-important flavor, but these traditions were probably not worth the pain they caused for the stadium crews.
I told you: I don't take vacations. Now show me where you keep these fullbacks they say can also play a 4-4 defense?
Etc. What would you do with a very large bowl? Art Vuolo: y'all should know, though. GR360. A guy who does strength coaching on Drake Johnson's ACL. David Brandon was (gasp) wrong about what students want at a football game (hint: it's not better cell coverage).
Your Moment of Zen:
Keep watching and the Glee Club of '84 sings an interesting rendition of Ohio State's alma mater.
Ondre Pipkins already announced he was out, but with Harbaugh asserting he was still on scholarship and would be this fall there was some uncertainty about what would happen. No longer:
Former Michigan DL Ondre Pipkins said he’ll transfer to Texas Tech, sit out this season and play in 2016.
— Joe Schad (@schadjoe) July 17, 2015
Michigan now has another slot to give a walk-on this fall, or they could bring in at fifth-year wide receiver. The latter seems a little far fetched this deep into the offseason.