Official visits to Ann Arbor in the fall have a way of swaying potential recruits, as was the case last weekend with South Elgin pitcher Ryan Nutof.
The 6-foot-2, 180-pound right-hander received 23 offers from colleges in the Big Ten, Atlantic Coast, West Coast, Mid-American and Ohio Valley Conferences, but he narrowed the finalists to Michigan and Penn State.
Last weekend's official visit to the University of Michigan sealed his decision to accept a baseball scholarship that will cover 85 percent of his college expenses. Nutof phoned Wolverines second-year coach Erik Bakich on Monday and accepted the offer.
"I loved it there," Nufof said. "It had everything I was looking for and more, so I figured why wait. I love their new facilities. They just got a ton of money to renovate their field and locker rooms and they built a new nutrition facility. The facilities overall are excellent.
"But the biggest thing is I love what coach Bakich is doing with the program right now. He's really got the guys training hard and I like his views on everything. I like what pitching coach (Sean) Kenny does with the pitchers, and I met the players and they're great. I'm excited."
Nutof was a Daily Herald All-Area selection last spring, when he became one of the Upstate Eight Conference's most dominant pitchers. His junior season debut was delayed slightly by a pulled back muscle, but he joined the rotation a few weeks into the campaign and went 5-1 in 6 starts, posting an area-best 0.76 earned-run average in 37 innings. He also notched a 1-inning save. He used a fastball clocked as high as 92 mph to strike out 57 batters and issued just 12 walks.
Opponents batted .194 against South Elgin's ace and managed only 4 earned runs. Nutof finished the season with a 1.00 WHIP. His finest performance was a 5-hit shutout of Glenbard North in a Class 4A semifinal.
Nutof throws a fastball, changeup and curveball and plans to expand his repertoire this spring. "I'm going to come with a slider next year," he said. "I've been working hard on it."
Michigan coaches first saw Nutof pitch this fall at weekly showcases held at Homewood-Flossmoor High School, organized by the Chicago Scouts Association. The Michigan staff then monitored Nutof's performance at the Perfect Game Tournament last month in Jupiter, Fla.
A student with a 3.8 grade-point average at South Elgin who intends to study business at Michigan, Nutof can relax now that the college recruiting process has come to a close.
"It's less stressful now," he said. "It's good that it will settle down a little bit now, but the process was fun."