Michigan wide receiver Dileo will be right at home in the Superdome

Michigan wide receiver and special teams player Drew Dileo is short of the goal line after a fake field-goal attempt against Nebraska this season. (MCT Photo)

NEW ORLEANS — When word circulated that Michigan was going to the Sugar Bowl, Drew Dileo’s phone started dancing.

“I got a lot of phone calls, a lot of text messages, what’s New Orleans like, cool places to go to, all kinds of stuff like that,” recalled Dileo, Michigan’s sophomore wide receiver who grew up in Greenwell Springs, La., near Baton Rouge. “We have to stay around the French Quarter, but there are a lot of good places to go to.”

On Thursday, after Michigan’s second Sugar Bowl practice at Tulane University, Dileo said the New Orleans trip is the perfect finish to his improved second season.

He was recruited by former coach Rich Rodriguez’s staff as a slot receiver — ideally suited with his speed at 5-foot-10, 172 pounds — but he didn’t make much of an impact as a freshman, with only one catch.

The switch to a pro-style offense didn’t seem like it would help him much, but Dileo’s role expanded as the season progressed. He finished the regular season with nine catches for 121 yards and two touchdowns.

Just last week, Michigan offensive coordinator Al Borges called Dileo an important piece for the Wolverines, comparing him to the small but effective former major league baseball player David Eckstein.

“Drew is that kind of football player,” Borges said. “He’s going to get a lot of hits. He’s probably not going to hit many over the fence, but he’s going to get a lot of hits. And when he’s asked to do something, it gets done, whether it’s catching an option route, whether it’s catching a corner route, whether it’s faking a field goal. * He’s a guy that in so many ways you can count on him to do exactly what you coach him to do.”

There aren’t many players in Louisiana who pay attention to Michigan football, but Dileo said he always followed the Wolverines, hooked by the winged helmet. He would choose Michigan in video games.

So when Michigan assistant Fred Jackson offered him the scholarship, he was quickly sold.

On Tuesday in the Superdome, Dileo will have a big cheering section.

“It’s incredible, 50-plus family and friends are coming to watch the game and it’s something I could have only dreamed about and now it’s coming true, it’s nice,” he said. “I played in the Superdome twice in high school in two state championships. Seeing the Allstate Sugar Bowl banner (this week) was kind of surreal.”

ANOTHER KICKER CASUALTY: Virginia Tech lost another kicker for the Sugar Bowl on Thursday, when backup Tyler Weiss missed curfew the first night in New Orleans and was sent home. Weiss was already in line to start after replacing suspended Cody Journell, who faces home invasion charges in Blacksburg, Va.

Senior Justin Myer will handle the kicking duties but is 0-for-2 this season and has not attempted an extra point.

NOTEBOOK: Michigan coach Brady Hoke was impressed with the Wolverines’ first practice on Wednesday but said Thursday’s workout began a little sluggish before picking up as it progressed. . . . On position battles: The safety competition between Troy Woolfolk and Thomas Gordon is continuing, and Michael Schofield “right now is obviously the starter” at left guard, Hoke said, though Ricky Barnum has shown versatility to play at any of the inside three spots. . . . Hoke is “not concerned” about the layoff from the Ohio State game until the bowl. He is pleased with the players’ retention of the game plan over the Christmas break. . . . Linebacker Brennen Beyer, who missed the Ohio State game with a leg injury, is healthy and “doing a good job.” . . . Michigan will practice in the Superdome twice before the game.


Posted by Tribune News Services

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