“The player development is the main thing I like (about Michigan),” Williams said. “You can see that they develop their players. They get them in the gym and they work them hard. And their hard work pays off.”
"He's a hard worker, and he watched me and Tim (Hardaway Jr.) and Nik (Stauksas) put work in to become (first-round picks), and I'm just happy he's getting better," Burke said. "It's great for the program, too. It shows what type of program the University of Michigan is and the direction it continues to go in."
When Drew Dileo, a small, white slot receiver from Louisiana, committed to Michigan early in the last recruiting cycle, the internet was displeased. This site was openly skeptical of him in his "Hello" post; message boards lit up with negativity about Rodriguez's recruiting; rivals joked that he would move to tackle because he was fairly large for a Rodriguez recruit.
“I was thinking I might end up at Louisiana Tech, a smaller school like that,” he said.
It didn't help that early reports had Stanford his only other BCS offer, with Tulane and Rice the other suitors. Nor did the composition of Michigan's class at the time. Dileo was the fifth receiver and second slot, a luxury recruit seemingly out of whack with Michigan's roster composition who wasn't even much of a luxury.
Complaints ensued, and from the complaints came the generic questions about doubters, and from the generic questions about doubters came the positive attitude and general likeability to make doubters feel like heels:
“I know my profile isn’t as great as a lot of other kids’ around the country,” he said. “I know (Michigan) reached out there a little bit to get me. It’s not about proving anybody wrong. I just don’t want people up there to feel like I wasted a scholarship.”
I hope all of you think about what you've done.
So let's get past all that. Yes, Dileo is an odd recruit to be in this class and his rankings are uninspiring. But that doesn't mean he's doomed. It would turn out that Virginia and Northwestern had also offered, so… there's that. Rivals ranked him #24 in Louisiana, which isn't world-crushing but is just behind LSU WR commit Armand Williams and in front of prospects headed to Texas A&M, Texas Tech, LSU, and Florida State. He is also way in front of a guy named "Deuce Coon." Go Louisiana naming industry.
In high school, Dileo was a multi-purpose threat capable of scoring in literally every way you can without playing defense:
In two years as a Parkview starter, Dileo has compiled 3,300 all-purpose yards — 1,210 rushing, 620 receiving and 1,470 on returns.
As a sophomore, Dileo, who runs the 40-yard dash in 4.5 seconds, became the first Parkview player to score on a kickoff return and a punt return; pass for a score and rush for a score; and catch a touchdown pass in the same season.
Michigan was the "most aggressive" school after Dileo, declaring that they "just had to have him." Despite his commitment, "several" SEC schools pinged him during his senior season.
None of this elevates Dileo to the level of a prospect Michigan fans should be thrilled about, but they are indicators he can contribute. And if there's one specific place a redundant slot receiver can contribute immediately, it's catching—not dropping—punts and then running the other way. Dileo's strange addition becomes far less strange in this context:
"I think they are looking for me to return punts more than anything, but I'll play a little slot receiver,” Dileo said.
Dileo has also returned kickoffs for Parkview Baptist in the past. Opposing teams stopped kicking to him this season, though, after he averaged more than 42 yards per kickoff return as a junior. …
What makes Dileo a competent return specialist is his combination of sure hands, agility and quickness. Much like an outfielder in baseball, a return man must accurately judge when and where a kicked ball will land while factoring in kick trajectory, ball rotation and the wind’s effect. Unlike baseball, a return specialist also has 11 members of the opposing team ready to hit him as soon as he fields the ball.
Dileo was also a baseball star for PBS, FWIW, and ESPN's evaluation also brings up his return skills($):
As a punt returner he fields the ball and accelerates while reading blocks on the run. Maintains balance even after being hit. Fights for every inch of return yardage and can make defenders miss in the openfield. As a kick returner shows the same savvy and determination. Follows the wedge and breaks into the clear at just the right moment.
Elsewhere, a local observer claims Dileo's field vision on returns is "sick" and that he is "a threat to take it all the way" on any kick or punt he gets his hands on; Touch the Banner declares him an "excellent" returner who looks to "get upfield in a hurry." If Dileo spends the next few years doing nothing except making correct decisions on punts—if he holds on to the damn ball—he'll be well worth the scholarship.
“He [Fred Jackson]told us Drew reminds them of Wes Welker,” Simoneaux said.
I know you were thinking someone would bring up Grant Fuhr. No such luck. Even if Wes Welker is the most hackneyed, obvious comparison anyone could possibly make to a white slot receiver, it must be said that the scouting reports do kind of bear it out. More ESPN:
Catches the ball easily in traffic and hauls in the pass even knowing he will be hit immediately after the reception. Can turn back across his body to make the difficult catches. As a slot, runs the counter and reverse to perfection. Hits and spins for extra yardage and is tough to bring down. Often slips through arm tackles to keep making positive yardage.
They also break out the white guy descriptors, calling him "sound," "solid," and "sure" in the same freakin' sentence. That just begins the avalanche of grit:
“It just goes to show you there’s still room for kids who are great athletes that have a great heart and work ethic,” Parkview coach Kenny Guillot said. “There’s a lot more room than people want to think.”
“He’s just a humble, humble kid,” Guillot said. “When everyone’s leaving, he’s the one in the weight room putting up weights. We have guest speakers every Thursday and have pizza, he’s always there picking up the pizza boxes and stuff like that.
“We like our kids to stay humble and hungry. We preach that to them and preach to them about (being) team players. We talked to Coach Rodriguez about that, and he said one of the things he felt like he had to overcome when he first got to Michigan, there was a lot of I going on.”
More local observers call him a "pure football player" and "true gamer" while claiming he's 5'8" (though someone else disputes that, saying he's 5'9" to 5'10"): never has a Michigan recruit been described by so many as David Eckstein in a helmet.
Some random blogspot guy compared Dileo to Darius Reynaud, so there's that, and the positive descriptors don't stop at his outstanding character. His coach calls him "one of those one of those kids who could be in a phone booth and still make people miss"; the locals claim he's "very slippery"; Jim Stefani invokes "slippery" as well and says he "excels in space with his great quickness and elusiveness."
TTB, always clear-eyed about things, sounds a note of disagreement—"I question his ability to be fast enough or elusive enough to be a major contributor at the next level"—that the recruiting sites certainly imply, but we'll leave the last word to his coach:
“I’ve been coaching a long time and I remember an old pro scout told me many years ago, when a guy can make the first guy miss” that’s a dangerous weapon, Guillot said. “He does a great job of making the first guy miss.”
Do that after catching—not dropping—all the punts and "waste" won't be a word uttered within six sentences of Drew Dileo.
Why David Eckstein/Wes Welker/Darius Reynaud/Dorrell Jalloh? The former two are because he is very, very gritty. If you bought Drew Dileo brand lettuce you could smooth furniture with it.
The latter two are close analogues to what Rodriguez will hope to get out of Dileo. Jalloh was a nothing recruit—literally, he was not ranked at all by Rivals or Scout—who became a productive multi-purpose threat at West Virginia. Reynaud is 5'10" and was a middling three-star receiver out of Louisiana who also became a productive multi-purpose threat at WVU.
Guru Reliability: Just under high. No combines apparently but a high profile player on a smallish but high profile high school in a relentlessly scouted state. General Excitement Level: Moderate. If RR & co really did bring him in just because he's an awesome returner and he lives up to that immediately it is a great, great offer given the disaster zone M has had the past couple years there. His receiving upside seems limited. Projection: Will be very interested to hear how things are going in fall camp as far as returns go. If no one latches onto the job and Dileo's in the running he will play this year. If someone, Gallon most likely, beats him out he'll redshirt and develop on the bench until Roundtree graduates.
will always compare white players to other white players (Welker) and will often tag them with the labels regarding grit (Eckstein). You do not hear the MSM talk about Black players in the same way they do about white players.
What you do hear the MSM do regarding Black quarterbacks is describe them as "athletic" and when they are talking about them as "intelligent" or "articulate" it is ususally with a tone of surprise like they didnt expect them to be intelligent or articulate.
Wow, this thread is much better than the one in April, 2009 Hello! thread when he comitted.
Go back, read it and cringe at just how douchey some of the folks in are fan base are.
Glad to see we're coming around on this kid. What I said in April, 2009 stands now, and its been repeated in this post and thread. The kid has a real chance to play asap from a return standpoint.. He might be the best guy we have at catching punts now. He would have been last season had he been on the team and active.
...can we not all PANIC. This site seems to have a tendency that if a player isn't starting or all everything by his sophomore year, well, he was a wasted scholarship under-developer.
It's completely possible he in no way is ready for the speed of the college game, not of the size not to get broken, and needs a couple years of coaching and Barwising to make him a heck of a return guy as a junior and a senior. No matter how bad our return game is, just because he can't instantly take it over doesn't mean he can't develop into a productive player.
Often from Brian on down we think that players who are making noise as an underclassman are the norm, rather than the oddity. (Not that I think you were doing it here...you just brought up the point I wanted to add).
"All-ACC return specialist and the leading punt returner in Tech history . . . Set school records with 1,135 punt return yards on 112 returns . . . Both figures rank second in ACC history to Ledel George of NC State (125 returns, 1,191 yards) . . . Had a chance to break George�s record of 1,191 yard but missed his final two games with a sprained foot . . . Broke the Tech record for career punt return yards formerly held by his father, Randy Rhino (749) . . . Over his last two seasons, he returned 93 punts for 962 yards (10.3-yard average) . . .etc, etc"
Rhino was at GT for my first couple of years there. It's a pretty good comparison, but I think Dileo is a probably a better athlete (insert sarcastic hint of surprise) from the video. Kelly was just a tough SOB and was grittier than a pummice stone in the visage of Eckstein. The dude never called a fair catch - it was really fun to watch. He also never outran anyone.
I'm excited about every single recruit we're bringing in...including Mr. Dileo. He will be a contributor in some capacity, and given his rankings and general lack of hype, that seems to me like a victory for us. It will be nice not having to be scared to death every time we're about to field a punt or kickoff.
In addition, this class might could get our foot in the door in Louisiana, which wouldn't exactly be a bad thing. Mickey Johnson anyone?
I was at Glick on Sunday, June 27th for the middle school camp that my son was in, when in walked Hagerup and a few minutes later, Dileo. Hagerup boomed it about 80 times - Dileo caught them all, except one (should have let it bounce in front). It was quite a treat for me and the few others that were inside watching this during their dinner break. BTW, Hagerup is well-built and seemed to be pretty fast for a kicker - I envision a few fake punts in his future.
I know this is a threadjack when we're talking about DD,
but we seriously need to have a HUGE year out of Hagerup and Gibbons. The two of them are stepping right into the line of fire, with zero room for error and no time to learn on the job. I have the highest hopes for them, and Hagerup might someday be the best punter any of us can recall. But the kicking game is an area of critical importance in a year of critical importance.
Someone below referred to DD as a potential Mike Hart at the slot position, which could be accurate. From the video, he appears to be a little faster than I remember Hart being in his HS highlight tapes, but Hart simply knew how to run and get the most out of what he had.
If DD can catch punts/kick offs, understand the blocking scheme set up in front of him and take the ball upfield quickly, he should do well regardless of if he can break 80 yard returns or only 40.