In 2012, Drew Dileo emerged as a go-to receiver for the Michigan Wolverines.
However, in 2013, his valuable contributions may be brushed aside due to Jeremy Gallon’s skyrocketing stock and the arrival of prototype wideout recruits.
Along with Gallon, Dileo—also a senior—is an experienced cog in offensive coordinator Al Borges’ plan of attack. During Michigan’s 63-13 win over UMass on Sept. 15, Dileo came up with three catches for 91 yards. On Oct. 20, during a 12-10 victory over Michigan State, Dileo—then a junior—put together a four-catch, 92-yard performance.
As one of the most undersized key receivers in the Big Ten, Dileo made his name as a relentless workhorse.
His numbers weren’t mind-blowing by any means. By most standards, Dileo’s third year—although about twice as good as his sophomore session—was so-so, finishing with 20 catches, 331 yards and two touchdowns.
Now that Roy Roundtree is gone, Dileo will be looked to for leadership and production. But he may not get the opportunities to produce if the new receivers quickly catch on to Borges’ scheme.
Dileo has never been a collegiate star. At best, he’s been a reliable possession guy. At worst, he’s been the lucky beneficiary of a few good throws from quarterbacks Devin Gardner and Denard Robinson.
The truth is somewhere in between. He’s not necessarily “lucky,” but he certainly puts himself in the right position at the right times.
Remember the UMass game? Dileo was essentially left uncovered during two of his receptions. He couldn’t have been more open while reeling in a 66-yarder from Robinson in the second quarter.
His reliable nature surely opens doors for Borges and receivers coach Jeff Hecklinski, who now have a stable of talent to manipulate this fall.
But was Dileo just a bridge to the future?
Gallon is now a conference star—he’ll get the lion’s share of attention from Gardner, who enters his first season as the full-time starter. Dating back to the spring game, Michigan had 12 receivers vying for a spot on the 2013 roster.
Dileo has a leg up on most of them, but don’t forget big-bodied freshmen like Da’Mario Jones, JaRon Dukes and Csont’e York, who are each at least 6’0” and 180 pounds. They’ll get looks, too.
According to MLive.com's Kyle Meinke, sophomore Amara Darboh is the leader for the No. 3 position. And considering Darboh's progress from nothing to viable option, Dileo should be on the lookout—his job may not be guaranteed.
Also, don’t forget about redshirts like Joe Reynolds, Jehu Chesson and Jonathan Keizer. They’re undoubtedly hungry for playing time.
Jack of All Trades
Dileo has appeared just about everywhere on the field. He’s been a holder, a returner and slot receiver. He obviously has a skill set that can’t be denied. Coaches plug him into various holes because of his work ethic and athleticism.
This year, Dileo’s primary duties will likely come as a receiver. If he’s beaten out for a top role, expect to see him in other areas. Based on his past, returning punts or kickoffs isn’t out of the question.
Dileo understands his place in Ann Arbor. He’s not the type to worry about personal stats. Winning is his objective.
That much was apparent after catching four passes against Michigan State last season. "It's been pretty exciting. I have a role on this team, and to fulfill my role like I did today is nice for me, and nice for these seniors, team 133, coach Hoke, and everybody," he told Mark Snyder of the Detroit Free Press.
Kickoff in 2013 is seven weeks away. Maize and blue followers have to wait to see if Dileo builds on his exceptional junior year or blends in with the perceived better talent that surrounds him as a senior.
The last of Dileo hasn’t been seen. However, he’ll have to continue rising to challenges if he wants to remain a valuable piece of the offense.
Follow Bleacher Report’s Michigan Wolverines football writer Adam Biggers @AdamBiggers81.
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