While Michigan senior Drew Dileo shouldn't be on any preseason All-America teams, the versatile receiver is certainly earning his keep.
Going into spring practice, most depth charts have Dileo listed as a probable starter when Michigan opens the season with Central Michigan on August 31.
A 5'10”, 177-pounder from Greenwell Springs, La., Dileo is a great example of football's possession receiver. Not blessed with sprinter's speed, Dileo has great hands and an uncanny ability to find holes in short zones.
He's practically a clone of 5'9", 185-lb Wes Welker, the highly effective possession receiver who recently left New England to sign a two-year, $12 million contract with the Denver Broncos (via ESPN).
Both are sure handed receivers who can make the critical third-down catch, but neither has the straight-line speed necessary to be a consistent deep threat.
Welker has been a master of his craft for years. He became quarterback Tom Brady's favorite target with New England, while becoming the first receiver to catch more that 100 passes in five different NFL seasons.
Dileo might not have Welker's glaring stats (30 career receptions), but he has all the tools to play a significant role in when Michigan unveils its pro-style offense this fall. The Wolverines will most likely employ elements of the West Coast passing attack, to compliment its downhill rushing attack.
Look for Dileo to operate from both the slot and flanker positions, so he can start many of his plays in motion.
Another model of consistency and a true possession receiver is Jason Avant, who played for Michigan from 2002-05 and just completed his seventh season with the Philadelphia Eagles.
Over the last three campaigns, Avant has 51, 52 and 53 receptions.
In fact, of the 53 balls thrown to Avant in 2012, he caught all of them. Now that's the definition of a possession receiver.
At Michigan, Avant played alongside Braylon Edwards during his sophomore and junior years. By the time he was a senior, he became Michigan's primary option, earning team MVP honors while catching 82 passes.
While Dileo might become one of Michigan's top receivers this season, he's also contributed as a kick returner, punt returner and is the team's regular holder. He's something like 4-for-4 in fake field-goal attempts, the most memorable being his deflected pass to long snapper Jareth Glanda in the 2012 Sugar Bowl.
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