"The University of Illinois is also in turmoil. The university sports an Interim Chancellor, an Interim Athletic Director, and an Interim Football Coach; the game will be played at Soldier Field, making this an Illini Interim Home Game."
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.
I know that this is cliche, but special teams really are under-appreciated. If RR wants to recruit a guy for the sole purpose of fielding a punt (or kickoff) and running the other way, I have no problem with that at all. A good return man can be the difference between starting on our 20 (or worse) and starting at the 30 or better. 1 scholarship for the potential of consistently getting these 10+ yards? I don't see the problem. It is not that different from burning a scholarship on a great punter. A highly recruited punter will generally only kick about 10-15 yards farther than your average run-of-the-mill walk on punter, but we are all happy when we recruit a great punter.
he gets straight up the field most of the time. The best return guys have no hesitation and go forward. No idea if he'll play at slot but he looks good to me as a return guy and maybe special teams on punts and kickoffs. Welcome.
"Before I could pull the trigger, I was hit by lightning, and bitten by a cobra."
Do we know if Drew is on campus already and in summer classes? I re-watched the Wisconsin game from two years ago on BTN recently and everyone that returned a punt or kick fumbled.
If he can field punts and return kick offs without fumbling, he is for sure a good pick up. He sort of reminds me of that kid from Manchester, MI that played for Wisconsin 10+ years ago. Anyone remember his name?
I think we are under-estimating his future potential. I think he could be thrown into the return duties almost right away (or right away after a RS season), but let's say he redshirts. He will be the only slot in his year, only one slot a year ahead of him (Gallon) and then the rest of the slots on the team are at least 2 years of eligibility ahead of him. It also doesn't look like we'll get a slot receiver in the class behind him since it's a smaller class and we have a bigger need for OL and defense.
That means that when Dileo is a junior, he'll be #2 on the depth chart behind Gallon, and the rest of the slots on the team will be true sophs or RS frosh at the oldest. That bodes well for Dileo a few years down the line.
We're still recruiting a few guys who could play slot this year. With the tight end position slowly disappearing, we're going to see more four-wide sets. Dileo could be a decent slot guy to pick up a few yards here or there, but he's not as dynamic as guys like Odoms and Gallon can be.
...is that when this Dileo kid runs onto the field to catch punts and everyone else is wondering 'who the hell is that?' I will already know a ton about him and be able to root for the little bastard in an educated manner.
This is the first time I've watched his film, and he looks great. Some of it is less than superb competition, of course, but that is true with all high school film. There were reports on other sites that shall not be named that he was at the indoor facility returning Hagerup punts a few weeks ago. Most of the report was on the punting, so I don't know how Drew looked. I think he's a diamond in the rough get for us.
Special teams are important, and I think it makes sense to use a scholarship on a reliable return man, just as you would on a kicker and punter. I think the ideal punt returner is a guy with good speed and great hands who played outfield in baseball. Dileo is listed on his high school's 08-09 roster as a second baseman, but middle infielders chase a lot of popups. This guy looks like a good pickup.
All of them had inflated numbers due to long returns...but more glaring when you've had less returns. Take away their big senior season runs, and Breaston's is still an 8.8 average, and Desmond still has a 11.1 average, but Charles drops to 6.3. And his previous year is 28 yards with a long of 27. So 4 other ones for 1 yard.
Now Woodson and Desmond only played 3 years, and Woodson was all defense his first. And Howard didn't get as many touches as people would think, because there was this guy named Welborne ahead of him...
Throw in Kick-off Returns and other stuff, and you can see why Steve leads in so many categories. Charles was Charles. He wasn't a great punt returner. He wasn't really a great receiver. (Though obviously he was a GREAT cornerback). What he could do that I've never seen from any other college player is he could make the big plays, at the biggest moments, without fear. He was the definition of money. Desmond, probably would have been a historic returner, if he had stayed for his senior year (and as above mentioned, didn't have such PR competition...Alexander with and after him too). He did it with style, in the biggest games too.
But look how some of them other than Breaston (who obviously got keyed in on, and kicked away from a lot more after his freshman season...not to mention got banged up there) did their first few years. But by the time they were done, they had impressed us as pretty spectacular return men. Just goes to show...If Drew isn't lighting up the world catching punts as a freshman...it doesn't mean he can't or won't.
I've said this on the site before, but guys like Dileo, Paskorz and others are the kinds of guys that teams like Wisconsin, Iowa and Northwestern use as the basis for 8-10 win seasons. It's the lack of precisely these kind of high quality FOOTBALL players in the depth chart since 2007 that has repeatedly caused Michigan problems.
If Dileo can do one job well, catching and returning punts, he'll be able to help Michigan flip games that have been lost in the recent past (2009 Iowa immediately springs to mind) because of special teams miscues.
Also, another Louisiana recruit who a majority of this board shat on to the point that an OPPOSITION HS corch showed up at MGo to defend him, Carvin Johnson, is being lauded for his abilities so far this summer, and likely will be in the two-deep this fall.
Teams not only need great athletes, but they also need specialists like these guys who know their roles and do them well. I applaud this recruit. The Michigan fanbase needs to quit with the presumed arrogance that scouting services know what the Michigan football team needs better than Rich Rodriguez. Dileo is exactly what we need after watching Mathews, et al, destroy the PR position the past two years.
Johnson might well play this year, he's been given lots of plaudits already in AA.
I agree with you re: these two guys. i understand the benefit of getting the best players, but just because a team doesn't get those best players, doesn't mean they can't win big. Certain teams prove that every year.
I hope that he is not Sam McGuffie lite - no disrespect to former players, but Sam didn't exactly work out too well for us. He was too light to take a hit and not fast enough (at the college level) to avoid taking one. He also turned his back to the line at the first sign of contact. I would prefer Breaston lite . . .
someone at the University should compile all of these "2010 Recruiting" posts and distribute it at the home opener. Keep the fanbase educated on the new players and possibly even find a way to put some money in Brians pocket...