Sunday, January 25, 2015

Nolan Ulizio, Wolverine

West Chester (OH) Lakota West offensive tackle Nolan Ulizio with Michigan head
coach Jim Harbaugh
West Chester (OH) Lakota West offensive tackle Nolan Ulizio committed to Michigan on Sunday. He had previously been committed to UConn, and he also held offers from Cincinnati, Kentucky, and Pitt.

Ulizio is a 6'6", 285 lb. prospect. He claims a 25" vertical, a 315 lb. bench press, and a 410 lb. squat.

ESPN: Unranked OT
Rivals: 2-star OT
Scout: 3-star OT, #42 OT
247 Sports: 2-star OT, 79 grade, #187 OT

Ulizio was not on Michigan's radar until Jim Harbaugh was hired, and defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin was sent into Lakota West because he had been the area recruiter at both Stanford and Florida. Ulizio had committed to UConn in mid-December, later earned a Kentucky offer, and was just waiting for signing day until the Wolverines swooped in with an offer. He took an official visit this past weekend, told other players on the trip that he was going to commit, and pulled the trigger on Sunday.

On the plus side for Ulizio, he has a solid frame that doesn't look sloppy at all carrying 280 lbs. or so. He should be able to carry the necessary weight in a college strength and conditioning program to fit right in at a place like Michigan. He also does a good job on combination blocks, takes good angles to the second level, and seems to understand the play design. He generally works his hips around in the right direction and does a good job of staying in contact with his blocks. Ulizio looks like a high-effort player who will put up a battle.

As far as negatives go, he is not a great athlete. He moves okay in a straight line, but he tends to play high and with a narrow base. He is a bit of a waist-bender, and that will get him off balance at times. He also tries to overpower opponents with his upper body strength, which will not work against Big Ten opponents. Ulizio has experience playing left and right tackle, but his feet are too slow to be a blind-side tackle at the next level, and he might be too stiff for the tackle position, period. If right tackle doesn't work out, he may be able to play guard, although the lack of hip flexibility may be an issue on the interior.

Overall, I like Ulizio's mentality and football IQ, but he is a guy who will have to work his way onto the field by getting strong in the weight room and knowing his assignments. He reminds me a lot of former Michigan tackle Mark Huyge, who was never a standout but became a starter and was largely invisible on the field. Huyge wasn't a gaping wound on the offensive line, but he wasn't a dominant force, either. Ulizio should redshirt as a freshman and have at least one more year on the sideline before competing for time on the field.

The Wolverines now have nine commits in the 2015 class, including three linemen - tackle/guard Ulizio, left tackle prospect Grant Newsome, and guard/center Jon Runyan, Jr. The class should reach at least a size of twelve, with the potential for a few more spots as well.

This commitment also gives the Wolverines a bit of a foothold into an Ohio power. Lakota West currently has five players committed to FBS schools (Cincinnati, Kentucky, Michigan, Virginia, and Western Michigan) in the class of 2015, and they produce multiple FBS recruits every year. Just north of Cincinnati, West Chester is close to the Kentucky border and Lakota West sends a lot of players to play for the Wildcats. This is Michigan's first ever commit from the school, which opened back in 1997.

TTB Rating: 65 (ratings explanation)


  1. Mark Huyge? I'll take that. Worst case scenario is that he's displaced by someone more talented. Best case is a guy who's just always in the right place.


  2. Since this is Harbaugh's 2011 class, so to speak, I'm not going to nitpick anything. Normally you read about 2-star plucked away from UConn and you have to be a bit concerned, but it sounds like there is some late-bloomer potential here. I'm glad to read that you didn't have too many negative things to say about him. Given his rankings it's no surprise his upside isn't that high.

    IMO we badly need some OL depth and Ulizio fits the bill. Keep bringing kids in until we have that dominating OL we need to play Harbaugh-ball.

    Seems like this is a kid who will appreciate the opportunity. I'm optimistic he'll turn into a hard-working solid contributor and be a valuable addition to the program.

  3. He actually reminds me of Joe Cocozzo,
    Cocozzo started 32 games and played in four Rose Bowls and one Gator Bowl for the Wolverines.
    The Chargers drafted him in the third round, and although Cocozzo was never known for his fancy footwork, he was resourceful enough to carve out a 77-game NFL career that included 48 starts.
    “Unfortunately, I wasn’t a better athlete where I could step around and do all the great stuff,” he said.
    The 6-foot-4 Cocozzo’s utilitarian style wasn’t pretty, but he parlayed it into an All-America career at Michigan and through five seasons with the San Diego Chargers, going to the Super Bowl in 1995 in Miami, only to lose to the 49ers, 49-26.

  4. You certainly don't want to let him get his hands on you.

  5. I like Ulizio. Definitely worthy of an offer. He has the proverbial mean streak, which has been lacking in some of UM's recent and more highly regarded OL recruits.

  6. Thunder, a couple of changes after his Michigan commitment:
    ESPN finally got around to ranking him; 3 *** and a 78 grade
    247 bumped him up to a 3 ***, 79 grade to an 84 and he's now the 127 OT
    What is your guess as to why 247 bumped him up, other than he was offered and accepted a scholy from Michigan?