2015 Season Countdown: #88 Nolan Ulizio

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3Jun 2015
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2015 Season Countdown: #88 Nolan Ulizio

Name: Nolan Ulizio
Height: 6’5″
Weight: 293 lbs.
High school: West Chester (OH) Lakota West
Position: Offensive tackle
Class: Freshman
Jersey number: N/A
Last year: Ulizio was a senior in high school (LINK). He was a 247 Composite 3-star, the #137 offensive tackle, and #1274 overall.
TTB Rating: 65

Ulizio was a late flip from UConn after Jim Harbaugh was hired. D.J. Durkin, who was newly hired from Florida, had some previous relationships in the state of Ohio, and he was sent in to attempt to reap some late rewards. Ulizio was a 2-star recruit to some sites, and he had not even been evaluated by ESPN until after he switched his commitment to Michigan. Michigan’s coaching staff identified him as a late bloomer who hit a growth spurt, which helped him turn into an FBS recruit.

I have my concerns about Ulizio because of his lack of athleticism, but the kid is tenacious and has some decent technique. As he puts on muscle and continues to grow into his body, he could be an asset down the road. That will take some time, however. He looks like a fit at right tackle or offensive guard, and Michigan has some more experienced depth at those positions. I expect him to redshirt this season, and I don’t see him really factoring into the rotation until 2017 unless there are several departures.

Prediction: Redshirt

2Jun 2015
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2015 Season Countdown: #89 Jon Runyan, Jr.

Jon Runyan, Jr. with his family

Name: Jon Runyan, Jr.
Height: 6’4″
Weight: 276 lbs.
High school: Philadelphia (PA) St. Joseph’s
Position: Offensive guard
Class: Freshman
Jersey number: N/A
Last year: Runyan committed to Michigan in June 2013 (LINK). He ended the cycle as a 247 Composite 3-star, the #122 offensive tackle, and #1127 overall.
TTB Rating: 73

Runyan was a very early commit to the 2015 class, and some people had questions about why he was offered since he was not well regarded by recruiting sites and did not garner an impressive offer list. In fact, 247 Sports lists him as having received just one offer, although sometimes kids stop reporting offers after they commit. Regardless, Runyan is a Michigan legacy whose dad was a high NFL draft pick and long-time player. The biggest question about Runyan, Jr. seemed to be about his size, and he was reported to be about 245 lbs. when he committed nearly two years ago.

He reportedly got up to 276 lbs. by his senior year, which is still pretty light for a college lineman. You also may see in the highlights below that he’s lacking some technique – especially when blocking in the open field – and he also lacks the sheer power one would expect of a high-level prospect. Iowa takes kids like this every year and churns out one or two high draft picks on the line, so size and strength can be improved with quality strength and conditioning. But without that size coming into college, Runyan will probably find himself redshirting like most linemen this season.

Prediction: Redshirt

1Jun 2015
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2015 Season Countdown: #90 Chris Fox

Chris Fox (right) is still not 100% healthy.

Name: Chris Fox
Height: 6’6″
Weight: 303 lbs.
High school: Parker (CO) Ponderosa
Position: Offensive guard
Class: Redshirt sophomore
Jersey number: #73
Last year: I ranked Fox #83 and said he would be a backup offensive guard (LINK). He played briefly in one game.

Fox has missed the majority of the last two seasons due to bad knees. A torn ACL wiped out his freshman year, and lingering knee problems took away most of his redshirt freshman season. The only time he saw the field last year was in the season opening blowout victory over Appalachian State.

At this point Fox is rumored to be likely to take a medical hardship sooner or later. He was still on crutches this winter, and he was nowhere to be found for much of the spring. As Jim Harbaugh and his staff look to make way for contributors on both sides of the ball, guys who have to spend years rehabbing might find themselves pushed toward pooping or getting off the pot. With five specific guys likely to hold onto their starting positions, plus another few decent backups, Fox would be on the outside looking in this year, anyway.

Prediction: Medical hardship or backup offensive guard

31May 2015
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2015 Season Countdown: #91 John O’Korn

Houston transfer quarterback John O’Korn (image via Nunes Magician)

Name: John O’Korn
Height: 6’4″
Weight: 220 lbs.
High school/college: Fort Lauderdale (FL) St. Thomas Aquinas, University of Houston
Position: Quarterback
Class: Redshirt sophomore
Jersey number: N/A
Last year: O’Korn played for Houston. He completed 90/173 passes (52%) for 951 yards, 6 touchdowns, and 8 interceptions.

You can find a commitment post for O’Korn here (LINK). Harbaugh and O’Korn showed some immediate mutual interest after Harbaugh was hired and O’Korn, who was displaced as the Cougars’ starter, decided to transfer.

As a non-graduate transfer without any kind of immediate waiver, O’Korn will have to sit out the 2015 season due to NCAA rules. Since he did not redshirt at Houston, this will count as his redshirt year and he will be eligible for the 2016 and 2017 seasons. Naturally, a player guaranteed to redshirt is not particularly important to this squad except perhaps as a talented scout team player. He should compete for the starting job beyond this season.

Prediction: Redshirt

5Feb 2013
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Pro Athletes and Their Spawn: 2013 Edition

David Robinson (#50, posterizing Gerald Wilkins) was always one of my favorite basketball
players, and now his son is going to play for Notre Dame

It’s always interesting to me to see the kids of pro athletes and celebrities grow up (see last year’s edition).  What do the children of the privileged choose to do with their lives?  Well, at least for these few athletes, they have chosen to pursue college football careers:

Keith Byars II – RB – Boca Raton (FL) Boca Raton: Byars is a 5’10”, 205 lb. running back who picked Purdue over offers from Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisville, Maryland, Rutgers, and Vanderbilt, among others.  The elder Byars was an Ohio State Buckeye who went on to a successful career as a running back/fullback/tight end – now commonly referred to as an H-back – with the Philadelphia Eagles, Miami Dolphins, New England Patriots, and New York Jets.  He ended his career with 3,109 rushing yards and 23 touchdowns, but his bigger impact was in the passing game, where he had 610 catches for 5,661 yards and 31 touchdowns.  He won a Super Bowl with the Patriots after the 1997 season and then spent a year with the Jets before retiring.

Berkley Edwards – RB – Chelsea (MI) Chelsea: Edwards is a 5’9″, 185 lb. running back who picked Minnesota over offers from Cal and numerous Mid-American Conference teams.  As a senior this past season, he had 234 carries for 1,394 yards and 21 touchdowns.  His father Stan played running back at Michigan before continuing his career with the NFL’s Detroit Lions and Houston Oilers.  He ended his career after the 1987 season with a total of 149 carries for 533 yards and 2 touchdowns, along with 52 catches for 436 yards and 1 touchdown.  Berkley’s older brother is former Michigan wide receiver Braylon Edwards, who has played for the Cleveland Browns, New York Jets, San Francisco 49ers, and Seattle Seahawks.

Torii Hunter, Jr. – WR – Prosper (TX) Prosper: Hunter is a 6’0″, 172 lb. receiver who chose Notre Dame over offers from Arizona, Arkansas, Iowa, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, TCU, and West Virginia, among others.  As a senior this past season, he had 71 catches for 1,235 yards and 14 touchdowns.  Unfortunately, he broke his femur during practices for the U.S. Army All-American Bowl.  The elder Hunter was a first round pick by the Minnesota Twins in 1993.  He has played 16 seasons in the major leagues, first with the Twins and then with the Los Angeles Angels; this off-season he was acquired by the Detroit Tigers.  His lifetime numbers include 1,986 hits, 297 homeruns, 1,143 runs batted in, 186 stolen bases, and a career batting average of .277.  He’s a five-time all-star and a nine-time Gold Glove winner.

Ray Lewis III – RB – Lake Mary (FL) Lake Mary Prep: Lewis is a 5’10”, 192 lb. back who committed to Miami last March.  As a junior in 2011, he had 177 carries for 2,312 yards and 29 touchdowns.  Lewis played in the Semper Fi All-American Bowl.  His father Ray was a first round draft pick by the Baltimore Ravens in 1996 and is likely Hall of Fame-bound as a middle linebacker.  He ended his career on Sunday night by winning a second Super Bowl; his career statistics include 1,336 total tackles, 41.5 sacks, 31 interceptions, and 3 touchdowns.

Jonathan McCrary – QB – Ellenwood (GA) Cedar Grove: McCrary is a 6’4″, 200 lb. quarterback who picked Vanderbilt over offers from Florida State, Georgia, North Carolina, Ohio State, and Tennessee, among others.  As a senior in 2012, he completed 203/270 passes for 2,927 yards, 28 touchdowns, and 9 interceptions; he also ran 45 times for 317 yards and 7 touchdowns.  His father Greg McCrary was a backup tight end for the Atlanta Falcons, Washington Redskins, and San Diego Chargers from 1975 to 1981, totaling 22 catches for 228 yards and 4 touchdowns.

Corey Robinson – WR – San Antonio (TX) Christian: Robinson is a 6’4″, 195 lb. receiver who picked Notre Dame over offers from Iowa and Kansas, among others.  As a senior in 2012, he had 67 catches for 1,414 yards and 20 touchdowns.  His father David Robinson was a 7’1″, 235 lb. basketball player who was the #1 overall pick out of Navy in 1987.  He played his entire career for the San Antonio Spurs and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2009.  The elder Robinson’s career accomplishments include 20,790 points (21.1 per game), 10,497 rebounds (10.6 per game), and a career field goal percentage of .518.  He won NBA Championships in 1999 and 2003, his final year in the league.

Shane Tripucka – P – Allen (TX) Allen: Tripucka is a 6’3″, 210 lb. prospect with a lone offer from Sam Houston State.  However, Rutgers has shown recent interest, as offers to specialists frequently come late in the process.  Tripucka was selected for the Under Armour All-America Game.  His uncle Kelly was a #12 overall pick by the Detroit Pistons out of Notre Dame in 1981; he led Notre Dame in scoring during each of his four seasons.  In a ten-year career with the Pistons, Utah Jazz, and Charlotte Hornets, he averaged 17.2 points, 3.8 rebounds, and 3.0 assists; Kelly was a two-time NBA all-star.  Shane’s brother Travis was recently signed by the New York Jets as a long snapper after playing college football at UMass.