Nolan Ulizio in Transfer Portal

Nolan Ulizio in Transfer Portal Comment Count

Seth January 15th, 2019 at 9:37 AM

Somebody last night noticed amidst the long list of Nittany Lions in the transfer portal the name of Michigan redshirt junior OL Nolan Ulizio. A onetime starter for Michigan, Ulizio lost his job as quickly as he won it in 2017, and virtually disappeared last year behind the two-deep freshmen.

Lorenz's article points out that the transfer portal does not mean a player is certainly leaving. As per the new rule, athletes who ask to be placed in the portal can be contacted by other coaches to discuss a transfer, but that's no guarantee of any bites, or that the player will prefer his transfer options to sticking around. In this case I'm guessing he's gone.

Ulizio was a flier recruit taken in late January 2015 when Harbaugh arrived to find just Grant Newsome and legacy Jon Runyan in the class, and the guys on campus already nearing the end of their eligibility. Until that point Ulizio had been committed to Connecticut with not a lot of other choices. While offensive linemen are the toughest to predict, that's often an effect of having to gain or lose a lot of weight. Ulizio was more of a late riser and big drive blocker who projected to guard down the line. In the context of the 2015 class and the need for OL down the road it was a worthy swing. The bar was set at Reuben Riley. Intelligence was the reason to hope he'd be more.

That hope grew when Ulizio was mentioned after 2016 spring practice as a potential contributor, and momentarily exploded when he was announced as the starting right tackle shortly before the 2017 opener against Florida. Unfortunately that was the peak of his Michigan career. Ulizio's performances over five starts put him in that category of guys who grade out so badly in UFR that talking about it feels harsh, with blame doled out to coaches and universes more so than the player. It turned out that both Juwann Bushell-Beatty and Runyan were superior options, and when Ulizio appeared again it was as a guard in mop-up hour. Just a redshirt sophomore at that point, the early playing time suggested there might be a player in practice who'd translate that to the field eventually. Or maybe Drevno and Frey weren't happy with the other tackles and flung Ulizio out there in late desperation or something. Following that dysfunctional season Drevno was forced out, Frey jumped to his alma mater, and Ulizio had to prove himself to a third OL coach.

By Spring 2018 that seemed increasingly unlikely, as the tackle battle dominated offseason chatter without so much of a breath spent on Nolan. Ulizio was not just behind Runyan and JBB but two redshirt freshmen and true freshman Jaylen Mayfield. A late move inside, though probably a better fit, would also come with more competition. Ulizio's chances of earning a fifth year offer in spring, let alone playing again, were iffy at best with all the youngsters passing him. His chances of finding a good school that would take a tackle who started five games for Michigan and can play right away seem much higher.

Ulizio's exit would mean the Wolverines are down to just Runyan and Reuben Jones (if he's extended a fifth year in spring) from the Hoke-Harbaugh transition class. Michigan is now, by my reckoning, down to 88 scholarships for 2019, with a lot of offseason to go before they're expected to be at 85. With normal attrition still expected that's well ahead of the curve, meaning they have some room to offer a few more guys. The new assistants might have some players in mind, and it wouldn't be surprising if Michigan is currently searching the portal for defensive tackles.

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Greg Mattison is Leaving for Ohio State

Greg Mattison is Leaving for Ohio State Comment Count

Seth January 7th, 2019 at 2:33 PM

For the second time in his career, Greg Mattison is departing Michigan with a giant middle finger, and leaving a giant hole.

After the 1996 season, Mattison, then Michigan's defensive coordinator, left to join Bob Davie in the same position at Notre Dame. Michigan's 1997 defense, which owed much to Mattison's recruiting and eye for talent, then won a national championship without him.

When he returned to Ann Arbor in 2011 Mattison was more heralded—justifiably so—than head coach and friend Brady Hoke. Greg inherited the worst defense perhaps in the history of the program, gave them an identity, and recruited the bulk of a unit that was, by 2015, once again among the nation's elite (except in the one game that matters).

That wasn't the last coaching transition Mattison helped to rescue here. Mattison planned to leave when Brady Hoke was fired—even boxing up his office. However Mattison had deep connections with the Harbaughs, earning his first coordinator job from Jack at Western Michigan in the mid-1980s, and serving as John's defensive coordinator for two years with the Baltimore Ravens. As he had when Davie was replaced with Tyrone Willingham in 2002, Mattison—still under contract—accepted a demotion to defensive line coach, keeping his room intact under Jim Harbaugh. For another four seasons, Mattison remained one of the top assistants in the nation in recruiting while producing elite defensive linemen, whether they came that way (Rashan) or had to be stolen back from the fullback room (Winovich).

At 70 with his contract expired, Mattison was expected to remain or retire as a Wolverine. While no official statement has confirmed it so far, it appears that new Ohio State head coach Ryan Day offered Mattison a chance to be defensive coordinator again. It was reported shortly after the Mattison news that current OSU DC Greg Schiano won't be retained, and Pete Thamel just reported that 49ers DB coach Jeff Hafley will be accepting a "co-" defensive coordinator role there. Hafley, like myself, is 39 and has never been a DC.

Impact: So, it's not a good look, either for Michigan nor Mattison, whose reputation shifts immediately from Septuagenarian of Swag to college football's worst Benedict Arnold. Losing an accomplished and well-known assistant to the very fine people in Columbus will be press released as exactly the kind of deep blow its orchestrators intended it to be. Superficially swiping your rival's 70-year-old assistant, however, creates as many questions about longevity tomorrow as petty high-fives today. Mattison's defensive line expertise is superfluous at Ohio State, who poached top DL coach Larry Johnson Sr. from Penn State when Franklin took over, so at best this is a temporary move for Ohio State while they groom Hafley.

Michigan could also be fine. Rising star OLB coach Al Washington would have been tough to retain this offseason; Washington, like Mattison, is a strong recruiter with deep Ohio ties and in fact was previously the Michigan coach rumored to be considering an OSU job. Mattison's departure instead should clear the way for Michigan to promote Washington up the assistant chain while returning him to his most natural coaching position; Washington was Don Brown's defensive line coach at Boston College and at most of his other stops.

That all of course depends on whether Brown himself stays with Michigan or accepts the Temple head coaching job that Manny Diaz just bounced from. Harbaugh will have to wait a few more tense weeks to have a good idea of who's going to be coaching with him in 2019.

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Exit: David Long

Exit: David Long Comment Count

Seth January 2nd, 2019 at 3:36 PM

We think this is the last of this year's early NFL attrition, or at least the last of the expected type:

Long and returning battery mate Lavert Hill spent the last two years as the best corner pair in the country and the subject of nigh weekly Pro Football Focus tweets about the ludicrously low quarterback ratings of those who chose to throw the ball in their directions. Long fell behind due to his freshman injury and remained one of the least remarked stars in Michigan memory, but also edged out Hill in the tempo-free stats and charting. It will be hard to talk about one without the other next year, but getting either back is a grand coup.

As mentioned, Michigan does get back Lavert Hill as well as budding star Ambry Thomas and a very long line of super-tall guys they recruited in 2017 and 2018. As of now Vincent Gray and Myles Sims appear to have a slight lead on Ben St-Juste, Gemon Green, the incoming freshmen, and a safety or two who might move back outside.

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Exit Zach Gentry

Exit Zach Gentry Comment Count

Brian January 2nd, 2019 at 12:19 PM

Zach Gentry's entering the draft:

This will no doubt thrill the portion of the fanbase I have muted on twitter after he had a touchdown punched out by a linebacker and an admittedly bad drop in the OSU game.

Gentry didn't get as much use in the passing game as he probably should have as Michigan spent its season trying to get Patterson through it upright; he remains a giant fast person and should be of significant interest to NFL teams. Gentry's blocking was functional.

Gentry's departure bumps Nick Eubanks up to the #1 flex TE; Sean McKeon returns for his junior year as the main inline guy. Michigan will get Mustapha Muhammad and Luke Schoonmaker off redshirts to back those guys up.

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Exit: Devin Bush Jr.

Exit: Devin Bush Jr. Comment Count

Seth December 19th, 2018 at 10:03 AM

As we all expected he should, Devin Bush announced he will forego his senior season to enter the NFL Draft. He also will miss the Peach Bowl, and explained why:

As much as we regret not having our dear little deathbacker on the field later this month, I think we all would have regretted it more if Bush had reaggravated that ginger hip in a meaningless less meaningful game. It's clear he was considering playing anyway. Alas, Bush swinging from the shoulders of two trainers as the wheels fell off against Ohio State will be the final image Michigan fans will see of one of the best linebackers to ever come through the program, and the previously #1 defense in the country will play its bowl game without its literal and emotional core.

From the beginning Harbaugh pursued Bush, a three-star to most sites for most of his recruitment, with the same furor that Bush pursued quarterbacks, allowing onetime 4-star commit David Reese to switch to Florida and five-star-to-some Caleb Kelly to join Oklahoma with less than five-star resistance. Harbaugh planned his biggest satellite camp of 2016 at Bush's high school, recruited Bush's teammates Josh Metellus and Devin Gil—both of whom are now starters—and later hired Bush's head coach, who also happens to be a Florida State All-American and Bush's dad, Devin Bush Sr., to an important position on staff. The legacy of Bush's recruitment is now enshrined in two ridiculous NCAA rules—satellite camps and hiring people associated with recruits—pushed by programs upset that Michigan got to enjoy a true Southern talent without resorting to their more southern strategies.

That all-out pursuit paid off as Bush earned the primary backup role at middle linebacker as a true freshman, and exploded into a future first rounder in his first game as a sophomore starter. Many tried, but no ballcarrier ever managed to find an edge that Bush couldn't beat him to, and late in his career Bush was picking up a horse-crap personal foul per game by appearing in a quarterback's chest faster than a Big Ten ref's neurological network could process it. MGoBlog's Upon Further Review scoring comes every year with a disclaimer that linebacking is hard and an equal number of plus and minus plays is a good outing, and Bush is only the second guy in the blog's history—after David Harris—to ever challenge that expectation by grading consistently well into the positive. This season the degree and amplitude of Bush's impact on the field was hardly a secret known only to the wonks who watch every play: Devin was a consensus All-American and the face of an elite defense.

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The face of an elite defense. [Paul Sherman]

It would be nice for Michigan if the NFL hadn't in recent years grown wise to the fact that a 5'11" rabid death squirrel is more valuable to the modern game than the neck-rolly rageoholics they used to prefer. Since they have, despite his size, Bush is a near lock for the first round. Whichever franchise is smart enough to trade up when he's still available in the middle of it won't regret that decision any more than Michigan has.

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Exit Deron Irving-Bey

Exit Deron Irving-Bey Comment Count

Seth August 20th, 2018 at 10:21 PM

DIB (#44) was on track, then gone [Eric Upchurch]

This a surprise: redshirt freshman Deron Irving-Bey is transferring to CMU, and is already on campus there, according to Evan Petzold.

So that's sad, and pretty unexpected. Irving-Bey (recruiting profile) came to Michigan a sushi raw 4-star frame of promise who'd never had a D-line coach. The only down note was sour Spartans claiming they didn't really want him anyway a week before Irving-Bey left for the Army Bowl.

Irving-Bey wasn't being mentioned as part of the two-deep this year, but since he's just a redshirt freshman and had all the technique still to learn, even the sudden move of RS junior Carlo Kemp to 3-tech behind Mike Dwumfour and Lawrence Marshall didn't raise any flags. To the contrary, Irving-Bey was listed at near 300 pounds on the latest roster, and earned some nice words from Mattison two weeks ago at the start of fall camp:

Deron Irving-Bey looks like a different person. I mean his body has changed right in front of your eyes and he's really starting to feel more confident, and I think you're going to see some good things from him this season.

Given the timing and the fact there's a guy just one class ahead of DIB poised to seize the starting job for the foreseeable future, this seems like a standard playing-time deal. Except his path to playing time at Michigan was as clear as it's ever been. Of the four(!) guys Irving-Bey came in with who could potentially play the off-tackle position, classmates Aubrey Solomon went to nose immediately, Donovan Jeter followed him this summer, and Phil Paea and James Hudson switched to offensive line. It's doubtful anyone's pushing from behind yet: the 2018 class had three defensive end types who might grow into tackles, but Aidan Hutchinson is competing to be Winovich's backup, while Welschof and Upshaw are even bigger developmental projects than DIB was at this time last year.

Michigan could be fine with three years of Dwumfour (provided his 2016 gets a medical redshirt) and two more of Kemp, and Mattison has as good a record as anyone at developing interior linemen. Or Dwumfour could leave after this year for the NFL and Michigan could be down to Kemp, and whatever they can recruit or raid from other parts of the roster. Those recruits should include currently committed 5-star Chris Hinton, 4-star Mazi Smith, and 3-star Tyrece Woods, and Hinton at least seems likely to be able to help immediately.

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Exit Ibi Watson

Exit Ibi Watson Comment Count

Seth April 12th, 2018 at 8:31 PM

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[Marc-Grégor Campredon]

Per his Twitter, sophomore SG/SF Ibi Watson plans to transfer.

An exit for Ibi has been speculated ever since he got passed by fellow wing/wonderhair twin Jordan Poole, who’s a year younger, and poised to start at the two next year. Watson was already well under the 10% of minutes threshold between “limited roles” and “benchwarmers” this year, seeing his last significant minutes well after the Texas A&M rout was on. The last time Ibi was on the court extensively for a competitive game was LSU, and that performance was bad enough to give Poole his first crack.

With Charles Matthews likely returning and Adrian Nunez and Iggy Bazdeikis arriving this summer playing time wasn’t going to be any easier to find on next year’s squad even if you don’t count the backup point guards siphoning off winger minutes. Beilein also was poking around South Dakota grad transfer Matt Mooney, a 6’3” point guard who played half of USD’s minutes at the two last year, as of this week.

Michigan now has a scholarship for every player and commit for 2018-’19, with another spot likely to open up if Wagner goes to the NBA.

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Exit: Ian Bunting

Exit: Ian Bunting Comment Count

Seth January 30th, 2018 at 6:22 PM

See you when you’re back, Bunting.

Via Baumgardner, Ol’ Skillet Hands, er, senior tight end Ian Bunting plans to transfer for his final year of eligibility:

This site especially had high hopes for Bunting—as the original prospectin’ name suggests—as a dangerous receiving tight end. When Bunting seamlessly replaced Mackey Award-winner Jake Butt in the Orange Bowl last year it wasn’t hard to project the then-rising junior as heir apparent.

Despite more snaps for tight ends than any year since Bo—yes, I’ve tracked this—Bunting rarely cracked the rotation behind emerging stars Sean McKeon and Zach Gentry, not to mention Nick Eubanks. With a new position coach, his degree in hand, his path to playing time blocked by younger, upwardly mobile catchy-catchy-blocky tight ends*, and his eligibility running out, Bunting’s transfer makes plenty of sense. We’ll always have the Orange Bowl. He should be eligible to play immediately wherever he goes, and Michigan should be okay with the kids.

On a personal note, I’m saddened he never got to star at Michigan. I lost my dad at 34 and promptly got drunk for a week—Ian, not old enough to buy himself a beer when it happened to him—was at practice the next day. He has since been a major presence with the Michigan Relay for Life charity, which helps raise money for cancer research.

* [Tyrone Wheatley Jr. is more of a blocky-blocky-catchy tight end and not necessarily competing for all the same chances.]

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Jeremy Clark Not Granted Sixth Year

Jeremy Clark Not Granted Sixth Year Comment Count

Ace January 23rd, 2017 at 11:30 AM


[Eric Upchurch]

According to Inside The Huddle's Michael Spath, the NCAA has denied Jeremy Clark's petition for a sixth year of eligibility:

Clark started seven games at cornerback in 2015 and three in 2016 before tearing his ACL against Penn State. The former three-star safety recruit was a critical component to the last couple secondaries, battling Channing Stribling to a relatively even draw for playing time until the injury.

Without Clark, Michigan will be very inexperienced at cornerback in 2017. Redshirt junior Brandon Watson, who's seen scattered snaps at nickel, is the only upperclassman at the position. Sophomore Lavert Hill and David Long are the favorites to earn starting spots; they'll compete with redshirt sophomore Keith Washington and freshmen Ambry Thomas and Benjamin St-Juste. Unless Michigan picks up another corner in the 2017 class—it looks like they'll get one more—that is the entire group of scholarship corners for next season.

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Exit: Wyatt Shallman

Exit: Wyatt Shallman Comment Count

Seth January 19th, 2017 at 4:46 PM

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As you likely expected/dreaded by now, Wyatt Shallman’s Michigan career is over. Degree in hand, Wyatt announced on Twitter this afternoon that he’ll pursue a grad transfer for his final year of eligibility:

Injuries held Shallman back from seeing the field for most of his time here. At his first fall practice observers noted Shallman was doing hamstring exercises and a redshirt was all but certain. He took one handoff in the blessedly forgettable App State game, and appeared sparingly on special teams in 2014. Going into 2015 Sam Webb reported a strained calf, and several weeks later Shallman tweeted a photo of himself about to go into surgery. Later that season he took three handoffs late in the Rutgers game, blowing through a couple of tacklers for one thunderous five-yard gain that suddenly reminded us of the player Michigan thought it was getting. But with Michigan’s crowded backfield, Shallman could never seem to break into the running back rotation; if they tried him at fullback it never seemed to stick long enough for the public to get a read.

Off the field, well, we’ve made little secret here that he’s been one of our favorite players since his recruitment—tags on this site include wyatt shallman’s mushroom hair, wyatt shallman’s ferrett, wyatt shallman’s wallaby, and wyatt shallman is metal af. Shallman committed to Michigan early (he was #2 of that 9-commit-a-palooza in February 2012) and was instrumental in helping to build that particularly close 2013 class. If he ever had police show up at his door it was because of a habit of adopting interesting fauna. His playful viking personality was just one of many reasons Michigan fans were excited to see Shallman on the field since his junior year of high school.

That recruiting excitement included three sites (Rivals punted and called him an ATH) ranking him #1 or #2 in the country at his position (fullback), despite that not actually being his position. All rated him 4 stars and around the 6th to 10th player in a strong in-state class, but just about everyone needed a long time to be convinced Shallman wasn’t playing DE, TE, FB, H-back, or whatever. For their part Michigan made it clear he was offered as a running back despite Derrick Green and De’Veon Smith in the class, and each time someone checked in Wyatt was still a back, albeit one who could do lots of other things. Personally I think I finally came over to the idea when Harbaugh arrived, since “multi-purpose, super-athletic, lion-maned, exotic creature-adopting, 260-pound running back” sounded like a thing that should totally happen in a Harbaughffense.

Now we’ll be rooting for someone else to tap that delightful potential. Root strongly—this is a guy who’s been a pleasure to cover over the last four years, and who has done about as much for Michigan as you can from the sidelines.

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