2017 Season Countdown: #53 Nolan Ulizio

2017 Season Countdown: #53 Nolan Ulizio


July 10, 2017

Nolan Ulizio (image via Toledo Blade)

Name: Nolan Ulizio
Height: 6’5″
Weight: 291 lbs.
High school: West Chester (OH) Lakota West
Position: Offensive tackle
Class: Redshirt sophomore
Jersey number: #70
Last year: I ranked Ulizio #47 and said he would be a backup offensive tackle. He played in four games.
TTB Rating: 65

Michigan stole Ulizio from UConn in the class of 2015, and things have been . . . on track since then? He redshirted in 2015, played in garbage time during four games in 2016, and now seems primed for a slightly increased role in 2017. The Wolverines lost three starters after the 2016 season, naturally bumping up the backups. Ulizio does not seem likely to claim one of those vacated starting positions, but he has reportedly had some success with reshaping his body and increasing his strength and flexibility. If nothing else, he should be a more viable option as a backup. I expect him to play in more than four games, but with the youth on the offensive line, he may be a career backup.

Prediction: Backup offensive tackle

25 comments

  1. Lanknows
    Comments: 3600
    Joined: 8/11/2015
    Lanknows
    Jul 10, 2017 at 2:13 PM

    Generally if you’re not pushing for a starting job by year 3, I think it’s fair to say you are on the career backup track.* That Drevno hasn’t developed anyone from the 2015 class into a viable starter is a serious concern. It’s exhibit A in why people are doubting Drevno, despite an impressive resume.

    Newsome got thrown on the field as a freshman and seemed on the right track, but we never got to see him make big strides forward and won’t for at least another year. Ulizio and Runyan haven’t made any noise and have been passed over by younger players (Onwenu & Bredeson). Perhaps more concerning is that they’ve stayed behind older backup types (Kugler & JBB). That more OL weren’t recruited is a another debate entirely…

    This is the year for Drevno to prove the doubters wrong. If he doesn’t he’ll likely be out the door. It doesn’t have to be the 2015 class that steps up, but between the other 2 classes and the holdovers from Hoke there is plenty of raw material for an OL coach to put a decent unit out there in Year 3.

    I agree with the rank for the 2017 team, but Ulizio (and Runyan) are very important players beyond their expected role as depth players – they’re major indicators of the job Drevno is doing. If neither of these two are contributing on a weak unit, something is not right.

    More optimistically, if either one of them emerges as a legit starter, that would be absolutely huge for the 2017 team. Drevno has an excellent track record with low-rated recruits. We need to start seeing some of that here.

    *There are exceptions of course, if you’re blocked by standout veterans or if you’re held back by injury or off-field reasons. But generally, the NFL caliber guys that are on all-conference teams are usually seeing substantial snaps by the time they’re juniors.

    • Comments: 2223
      Joined: 7/13/2015
      Jul 10, 2017 at 5:24 PM

      “That Drevno hasn’t developed anyone from the 2015 class into a viable starter is a serious concern.”

      I don’t think this is an accurate statement. I know you’ve made it before, and it was addressed then, too. Newsome was a viable starter before he got hurt. Just because he got injured doesn’t mean Drevno wasn’t involved in helping him be successful up to that point. I have my doubts about Drevno, but I think your statement is inaccurate.

      • Lanknows
        Comments: 3600
        Joined: 8/11/2015
        Lanknows
        Jul 10, 2017 at 7:27 PM

        Is that a great example of development?

        Newsome came to campus pretty ready to play — he started one game as a true freshman (as a 6th OL). Glasgow leaving opened up a spot at OT and he got it. His competition was a true freshman (Bredeson) and JBB. That battle lasted up till the final game.

        In other words, he still wasn’t much better than a true freshman.

      • Lanknows
        Comments: 3600
        Joined: 8/11/2015
        Lanknows
        Jul 10, 2017 at 7:57 PM

        Drevno’s best argument for development was Magnuson and Braden making significant strides. They weren’t great, but they did improve relative to 2014.

        Otherwise, it’s a lot like the Funk era. The guys who showed up to campus ready to play were the ones that played. Development was slow to non-existent. At least with Drevno I don’t think we’ve seen anyone regress like Omameh did.

        • Painter Smurf
          Comments: 205
          Joined: 8/12/2015
          Painter Smurf
          Jul 10, 2017 at 8:55 PM

          No comparison. Drevno’s guys are flat out better coached. It really shows when the #2 OL comes in during garbage time and continues to grind out the ground game methodically. That is highly unusual, even at UM.

          It also showed in UM’s spring game this year, where a ton of scrubs and walk-ons had to fill in and they looked pretty darn competent. The last three regimes never had 2nd and 3rd string OL hold up like that.

          • Lanknows
            Comments: 3600
            Joined: 8/11/2015
            Lanknows
            Jul 10, 2017 at 11:05 PM

            Drevno is certainly a lot better than Funk. My point was that the excuses should be over with in Year 3.

            The #1 OL was bad last year – and you want to brag about #2?

    • Comments: 673
      Joined: 8/11/2015
      WindyCityBlue
      Jul 10, 2017 at 5:24 PM

      Agreed…we really need to be getting more out of guys like Ulizio if this team is going to take the next step. Of course, he was not a great talent to begin with, and I wondered why we went after him at all, but the choruses of “trust the coaches!” and “give him a couple years in the weight room and he’ll be fine!” were loud. Turns out, not so much.

      Still, as you say, Drevno is supposed to be extra good at this, and lots of decent teams manage to make quality starters out of guys like this, so you’d think by his junior year, he would at least be more in the “we’ll be OK if we have to use him” category than in the “we’re in big trouble if he has to start” group where he is now. It’s also somewhat disappointing that he doesn’t seem to have put on any significant bulk after all his time here. Maybe we’ll see a bump when they finally bring out an updated roster, but I’m betting he will still be undersized for an OT on a top 20 team.

      We should have a very good idea by the end of this season whether we should be looking for Drevno’s replacement. Another year of slow and disappointing player development should be his last.

      • Lanknows
        Comments: 3600
        Joined: 8/11/2015
        Lanknows
        Jul 10, 2017 at 8:02 PM

        “We should have a very good idea by the end of this season whether we should be looking for Drevno’s replacement.” — Indeed.

        Drevno’s track record is good. So he deserves a chance. This year is the “show me what you got” moment.

        Same went for Funk when everyone was making excuses for him and blaming Rodriguez.

        By year 3 you need to be putting a competent line on the field. No excuses about the last guy’s guys.

        • Comments: 673
          Joined: 8/11/2015
          WindyCityBlue
          Jul 10, 2017 at 8:26 PM

          Drevno has also had three years of Kugler and JBB, and had two years of Dawson before he bailed, and couldn’t make much out of any of them. Even Cole (who was playable as a freshman) has not improved all that much under Drevno.

          • Lanknows
            Comments: 3600
            Joined: 8/11/2015
            Lanknows
            Jul 10, 2017 at 11:07 PM

            In Cole’s defense, they keep shuffling him to a different position. He’s probably a guard in the NFL yet they play him at tackle or center out of need.

            • Comments: 673
              Joined: 8/11/2015
              WindyCityBlue
              Jul 11, 2017 at 6:57 AM

              True enough, and he is also somewhat of a tweener. He does not have the ideal body type for anywhere on the Oline. But technique is technique, and he just doesn’t seem to have become THAT much better a blocker over 3 years.

              • Lanknows
                Comments: 3600
                Joined: 8/11/2015
                Lanknows
                Jul 11, 2017 at 10:38 AM

                Yeah, that was a Funk thing for sure. Molk/Lewan/Omameh didn’t get better. Schofield probably did though it’s hard to say how much.

                Cole hasn’t risen to the elite level many thought he would. I’m not sure I put that on Drevno, but it’s another case that doesn’t necessarily instill great confidence.

      • Painter Smurf
        Comments: 205
        Joined: 8/12/2015
        Painter Smurf
        Jul 10, 2017 at 9:03 PM

        This is the kind me of absurd take you only get on a message board. If you think Drevno’s future at UM is tied to getting a last minute, throw-in ’15 recruit to become a starter this season, you are missing something.

        There was nothing wrong with taking a flyer on Ulizio under the circumstances. But he was never a high probability talent. And you never know which guys will struggle to bulk up as Ulizio has. Frey is leading the OT’s this year anyway, so it is moot.

        • Comments: 673
          Joined: 8/11/2015
          WindyCityBlue
          Jul 10, 2017 at 9:32 PM

          It doesn’t, and I never said his future depended on one player’s success or failure. You just made that up.

          But if our line as a unit isn’t at least solid against quality opposition by the end of the year, and looking really strong going into next season, then yes, Drevno’s future here needs to be in question.

        • Lanknows
          Comments: 3600
          Joined: 8/11/2015
          Lanknows
          Jul 10, 2017 at 11:09 PM

          It’s not about Ulizio alone, it’s about the group collectively.

  2. Comments: 22
    Joined: 1/10/2017
    Julio
    Jul 10, 2017 at 6:44 PM

    WCB, you’re apparently maintaining form by placing complete trust in recruiting rankings (“… he was not a great talent to begin with …”), so at least you’re consistent.

    Ulizio was rumored to have mononucleosis last year. That would partly account for his inability to gain weight. If he’s at his playing weight this year and doesn’t make any progress, yes, we should be concerned.

    As Thunder noted, Newsome was on a nice arc before he got injured. This is Runyan’s third year, too, and there’s currently no need for great concern with him. ’15 was partly a lost year in recruiting. I won’t count it against the current staff.

    If anyone wonders why we had only four OL (one of whom bailed) in the ’16 class, I’d be open to listening. I think they should’ve ideally brought in at least five that year. It could be that they missed on a couple of targets and decided to use the scholarships elsewhere rather than load the team with mediocrities.

    • Lanknows
      Comments: 3600
      Joined: 8/11/2015
      Lanknows
      Jul 10, 2017 at 8:15 PM

      In Rodriguez’s “lost year” he managed to find 6 OL, 5 of whom started games in college.
      1. Omameh – NFL starter & all conference player
      2. Dann Oneill – transfer, all conference MAC, good enough to get an NFL free agent shot
      3. Barnum – starter at UM (16 games)
      4. Mealer – starter at UM (13 games)
      5. Khoury – serviceable back-up (1 start) who chose not to return his 5th year
      6. Kurt Wermers – bust

      Omameh started games a RS Freshman. Mealer and Barnum didn’t make major contributions till their 5th years. Barnum did battle injuries.

      Right now – Newsome looks like he could be on the Omameh or Barnum track. Ulizio and Runyan may be looking at Mealer-type careers at best if they spend their 3rd years languishing on the bench.

      Time will tell.

    • Comments: 673
      Joined: 8/11/2015
      WindyCityBlue
      Jul 10, 2017 at 8:20 PM

      No, I’m saying that when the coaches go against the recruiting rankings and grab low-rated guys, they need to deliver, a decent percentage of the time. Nobody is a perfect evaluator of talent, but we’ve had way too many misses on guys who didn’t look like they were top 10 caliber. If you’re going to take an Ulizio and a Runyan in the same class, at least one of them needs to be a solid starter or better by their junior year.

      And this is Ulizio’s third year. Unless he’s been sick for two whole years, that’s not an excuse for putting on essentially no weight.

      • Painter Smurf
        Comments: 205
        Joined: 8/12/2015
        Painter Smurf
        Jul 10, 2017 at 8:47 PM

        You can’t bag on Drev for the ’15 class. That was just a case of grabbing warm bodies. ’16 class is a different story. They needed a couple stud OT’s but blew it. They are finally on track to filling the pipeline, but a little better ’16 OL recruiting would have left UM in a better spot this upcoming season.

        • Comments: 673
          Joined: 8/11/2015
          WindyCityBlue
          Jul 10, 2017 at 9:29 PM

          Better development of the players they already had would have left us in an even better spot. When you’ve had 2-3 years to work with players, it’s no excuse that they are not guys you recruited yourself.

        • Lanknows
          Comments: 3600
          Joined: 8/11/2015
          Lanknows
          Jul 10, 2017 at 11:15 PM

          People made the EXACT SAME damn excuses for Funk. Just give them a couple (MORE) years with these guys. You’ll see when Kalis, Magnuson, and Kugler are upper-classmen – maulers!

          Even if you discount the ’15 OL class, it doesn’t excuse the lack of development from Hoke recruits.

          Some people seem to do better than others “grabbing warm bodies”. Some people seem to do better than others with what’s left in the cupboard.

          If Drevno fails to put together a top 25 caliber OL in year 3 that is 100% on him, as it was 100% on Funk.

          • Comments: 724
            Joined: 1/19/2016
            je93
            Jul 11, 2017 at 10:09 AM

            Exact same thing? Year 2 with Hoke/Funk we were 8-4, and heading into that God-awful 2013 with back-to-back negative rushing games… Under JH/Drevno, we’ve recovered from the depths of OL pergatory, posted consecutive 10 win seasons, and were in playoff consideration last December, even as teams were being debated/selected

            I consider our two big weaknesses this year as Secondary and OL (still good enough for 9-10 wins), but Drevno won’t go anywhere… Unless he gets a promotion

            • Comments: 2223
              Joined: 7/13/2015
              Jul 11, 2017 at 10:13 AM

              Personal opinion alert: Drevno is going to be a head coach in 2018.

              • Lanknows
                Comments: 3600
                Joined: 8/11/2015
                Lanknows
                Jul 11, 2017 at 10:32 AM

                I’ve seen this rumor on rivals – and I buy it.

            • Lanknows
              Comments: 3600
              Joined: 8/11/2015
              Lanknows
              Jul 11, 2017 at 10:34 AM

              I’m talking about excuses for the OL.

              Not Harbaugh = Hoke.

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