When Mike Tomlin first arrived in Pittsburgh in 2007, he was accompanied by three young children, with the eldest being his seven-year-old son Michael Dean. And while many fans will remember seeing his children running around the fields at Saint Vincent College, it might make them feel somewhat old to know that Michael - or Dino as he is known - is now all grown up and heading off to college.
After a promising high school career as a wide receiver at the Shady Side Academy in Pittsburgh, Dino received several Division I scholarships before finally accepting an offer from Maryland, but not before a number of schools had done their best to recruit him. And with former Steelers wide receivers coach Scottie Montgomery as their head coach, East Carolina were hopeful of landing him.
However, as per an article by Lila Bromberg of Testudo Times, his father was not especially keen on that idea. Or as Dino would explain it.
“My dad was like, ‘He’s not going to East Carolina,’”
But as it turns out, Montgomery would get his man anyway after he found himself let go by East Carolina and hired by Maryland as their offensive coordinator this offseason. A move that was met the hearty approval of Dino.
“I was extremely excited. It was like extra add-on because I was already excited to go to Maryland.”
Even if the reunion of coach and player would make Montgomery realize just how much he had aged.
“I heard his voice and it kind of crushed me because all of a sudden I was like, ‘Okay, I’m the old guy now. I mean, to watch a kid grow from that age to where he is now, it’s impressive. ... It’s just very hard to explain how small they were. They were so small. And now they’re grown.”
Thanks to an array of talented receivers through the doors in Pittsburgh over the years, Dino has had a chance to learn from the likes of Antonio Brown, Hines Ward, Emmanuel Sanders and Mike Wallace, and most recently spent time working with Eli Rogers before heading off to Maryland. But the freshman has no illusions that he will be seeing much action in the early going, regardless of his history with Montgomery.
“It would be naive of me to say I’m ready to play right now, but I feel like mentally, emotionally I’m ready,”
And if Dino had any thoughts that his offensive coordinator would be taking it easy on him because of their previous relationship and having worked with his father, that dream quickly went out of the window once Mike Tomlin had spoken with Montgomery.
“Raise him like he’s yours because he’s been around you forever,” Montgomery recalled Mike Tomlin telling him after he took the job. His former boss also requested he coach his son as hard as he could.
While Tomlin Sr. never made it to the NFL as a player, he has done rather well for himself as a coach. One day Dino may achieve what he father never could, but we will have to wait until around 2022 to find out.