2011 Countdown: #21 Drew Dileo

2011 Countdown: #21 Drew Dileo

August 10, 2011
Drew Dileo (image via VarsityBlue.com)

Name: Drew Dileo
Height: 5’10”
Weight: 171 lbs.
High school: Parkview Baptist Christian School in Greenwell Springs, LA
Position: Wide receiver
Class: Sophomore
Jersey number: #26
Last year: I ranked Dileo #78 and said he would redshirt.  He played in 7 games, caught 1 pass for 3 yards, returned 2 punts for 13 yards (6.5 yards/return), and returned 8 kickoffs for 173 yards (21.6 yards/return).

Dileo was a bit of a surprise contributor last season.  With plenty of slot receiver/running back types vying to be returners, it seemed he was destined to redshirt.  Coming out of high school, he looked like a good returner, but there was a skill we didn’t know he had: holding for extra points and field goals.  When backup safety and starting holder Jared Van Slyke broke his clavicle prior to the season, Dileo stepped in to hold for extra points and field goals.  At various times throughout the rest of the year, Dileo played holder, slot receiver, punt returner, and kickoff returner.

The new coaching staff reportedly likes what Dileo brings to the table as a wide receiver, and although he was held without a catch in the spring game, Dileo will likely see some time in the slot when Michigan goes three- and four-wide this fall.  He doesn’t have great speed, but he’s a kid who can do a little bit of everything and seems reliable; unlike just about every other returner during the Rich Rodriguez era, Dileo didn’t fumble or muff a single kick.  He might not be the second coming of Desmond Howard, but if Dileo can consistently catch punts and kicks, hold onto the ball, and create some occasional first downs on offense, he has a good chance to exceed many Michigan fans’ and recruiting analysts’ expectations as a sophomore.

Prediction: Punt and kickoff returner; 15 receptions, 180 yards, 1 touchdown


  1. Comments: 21386
    Aug 10, 2011 at 3:55 PM

    I love this kid. I can't wait to see all the ways that he's going to help us over the next 3 seasons. Great pickup by RR.

  2. Comments: 21386
    Aug 10, 2011 at 8:43 PM

    My first major disagreement with the countdown order.

    I like Dileo's potential as a WR and am confident in his ability to return kicks, but these contributions are fairly easy to replace. Compared to a top corner (Avery), top backup and talented DE (Black), etc. Dileo just isn't that important.

    Special teams do matter, but Matt Wile's success is far bigger deal than Dileo, especially now that he's probably punting for a while.

  3. Comments: 21386
    Aug 10, 2011 at 9:22 PM

    @ Lankownia 4:43 p.m.

    Wile would have been higher if the Hagerup suspension had occurred earlier. By the time that happened, it was too late to switch people around.

    But if Dileo can gain decent yards on returns and not fumble the ball or kick it out of bounds and put up a few hundred yards receiving, I think that might be worth more than the occasional field goal.

  4. Comments: 21386
    Aug 10, 2011 at 9:44 PM


    I think the past several years have shown us that kick and punt returners aren't actually that easy to replace, especially if they never muff or fumble.

  5. Comments: 21386
    Aug 10, 2011 at 10:01 PM

    You can certainly make a logical argument for why having a FG kicking deficiency isn't a big deal [ http://mgoblog.com/diaries/fg-kicker-we-dont-need-no-stinking-fg-kicker ], and there may be something to that, especially with Rodriguez.

    But if Hoke is anything like Carr he's going to be conservative and end up in a lot of close games where the kicker could ultimately decide the game.

    I think both the use and importance of FG kickers is generally overrated, but 4-14 (last year's total) is atrocious. I suppose you can argue the muffed returns in '08 and '09 where even more damaging though…

    I guess I see it this way: Wile's potential replacements are walk-ons who play like it. (or gibbons, who also plays like it.) Dileo's backups are actual scholarship players with talent. They should be decent…in theory at least.

  6. Comments: 21386
    Aug 10, 2011 at 10:51 PM


    Perhaps, but you have decades of experience at Michigan before that and the norm that you see on other teams. Combined, those indicate that it's not hard to find a handful of guys that can handle the return jobs without totally screwing it up.

    I can't explain the last couple years, but I have a hard time believing everyone on the current roster besides Dileo is that inept.

  7. Comments: 21386
    Aug 10, 2011 at 10:55 PM

    @ Lankownia 6:51 p.m.

    It's hard to believe, but we've seen it with our own eyes. Since 2008 our returners have been fumble-prone or muff-prone: Gallon, Cissoko, Odoms, etc. Mathews was pretty sure-handed (but slow) and Stonum handled the ball well (but got himself suspended), so evidence suggests that getting a decent return guy with good ball skills is important.

  8. Comments: 21386
    Aug 10, 2011 at 11:12 PM

    Its certainly important, but it seems like it was something unique to what Michigan was doing (or better put, not doing.) I don't think that's the norm.

    Is whatever Michigan was uniquely doing wrong the product of a)personnel b)personnel decisions by coaches or c) coaching instruction/technique? If it's a, then the problem would remain (if Dileo is hurt). However, I suspect it's b. They seemed to pick little dudes who, unlike Dileo, didn't seem to have a knack for the return game. I suspect that if you have a decent-sized WR with reliable hands (Roundtree?) to return punts and a veteran RB (Shaw?) return kickoffs, that the fumbling problems will not reappear.

    On that note…I'll beat the Shaw-should-return-kicks drum once again. I hope he isn't selected as the primary back just so his chances of returning kickoffs increases slightly. But Dileo's the guy I want for punts.

  9. Comments: 21386
    Aug 10, 2011 at 11:19 PM

    @ Lankownia 7:12 p.m.

    I don't really know, to be honest. I mean, I can't tell you why we've had all those fumbling problems. Odoms has reliable hands when catching passes, but he didn't as a returner a few years ago. You have jitterbug defensive back/slot receiver types returning kicks and punts all over the country, and not all teams have the same issues that Michigan has had with turnovers. Is DeSean Jackson or Darren Sproles really that different from Odoms, McGuffie, Gallon, etc. (besides being awesome)? I guess I just don't see size being a factor. It's just a case-by-case thing. Unfortunately, all of Michigan's cases have been bad.

    I wouldn't mind Shaw returning kicks. It used to seem like Michigan's backup running backs and cornerbacks would return kicks (Carlos Brown, Morgan Trent, etc.) at times, and the past few years, it's been these slot receiver types. I don't know if the position makes a big difference.

    Maybe the coaching just sucked, eh?

  10. Comments: 21386
    Aug 11, 2011 at 2:59 PM

    Hard for me to imagine what kick-return drills the Rodriguez staff failed to run (that others coaching staffs do)…but you never know.

    I don't think size precludes you from returning kicks (obviously) but it seems like a detriment for fair-catch situations at least.

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