|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.
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)