Dennis Norfleet, Wolverine

Dennis Norfleet, Wolverine

February 1, 2012
Detroit (MI) King running back/returner committed to Michigan
on Tuesday evening

Detroit (MI) King running back Dennis Norfleet was offered a scholarship on Tuesday night and committed almost on the spot.  He had previously been committed to Cincinnati, and he also held offers from Michigan State, Pitt, and Tennessee.

ESPN: 3-star, #81 RB
Rivals: 4-star, #5 all-purpose back, #206 overall
Scout: 4-star, #19 RB
247 Sports: 4-star, #7 all-purpose back, #169 overall, 95 grade

Norfleet is 5’8″, 175 lbs. and lists a 4.34 time in the forty.  As a junior he had 1,880 yards and 31 touchdowns.  He followed that up with 2,033 yards and 27 touchdowns as a senior.

Norfleet is solidly built despite being quite short.  He stated on Tuesday night that Michigan offered him a chance to play running back, slot receiver, kick returner, and punt returner.  Michigan hasn’t had a consistent punt returner since Steve Breaston, and there hasn’t been a solid kickoff return guy since Darryl Stonum in 2009.  Norfleet has the short-area quickness and the breakaway speed to be effective at both of those positions.  He also could be used as a zone read option guy in the backfield with Denard Robinson or Devin Gardner, or as a pass receiver in the mold of Vincent Smith.

Aside from the obvious concern about his size – his chances of being the full-time back are very slim – I’m not a big fan of the way Norfleet finishes plays.  He jogs into the endzone too often, which rubs me the wrong way and makes me question how disciplined he is.  Still, it’s better to take an athletic guy whom you might have to instill with some discipline than to bank the scholarship for next year.

Norfleet is Michigan’s 25th commitment in the class of 2012.  He’s also the first guy from Martin Luther King High School since defensive tackle Larry Harrison and safety Ernest Shazor left after the 2004 season.

TTB Rating: 76


  1. Comments: 21384
    Feb 01, 2012 at 1:25 PM

    I believe we now have our answer concerning DeAnthony Arnett.

    • Comments: 21384
      Feb 01, 2012 at 1:56 PM

      I'm not sure what you mean by that…?

    • Comments: 21384
      Feb 01, 2012 at 4:35 PM

      I could have been more clear, I was hurrying.

      The question being how can there be no room for Arnett.

      I'm speculating they thought they could get Norfleet if they ended up having room and they preferred him to Arnett.

      Two similar types, Norfleet a bit more explosive maybe.

    • Comments: 21384
      Feb 01, 2012 at 6:00 PM

      Two similar types? Except for that Arnett is about 7 inches taller… Am I missing something?

    • Comments: 21384
      Feb 01, 2012 at 7:16 PM

      There was no room for Arnett now (January, winter semester). Next year wasn't the issue. Arnett wanted to start going to classes right away.

    • Comments: 21384
      Feb 01, 2012 at 7:39 PM

      I was battling Rhian mesmerization.

      I had Arnett for 5'9" ish, my bad, but he was/is light, quick, elusive, an underneath type with return guy potential.

      The only difference beyond height is that they'll hand the ball to Norfleet some maybe, but it won't be often. He'll be running the wheel and sneaking out underneath.

      I'll stick with my characterization.

  2. Comments: 21384
    Feb 01, 2012 at 1:53 PM

    Looks like V. Smith 2.0 to me. Hopefully he develops into a great blocker like Vincent has; if so, I think he'll be able to help the team in a few years.

  3. Comments: 21384
    Feb 01, 2012 at 2:37 PM

    TTB rating?

    • Comments: 21384
      Feb 01, 2012 at 7:38 PM

      65-75. I don't know if he's ever going to be a starter in the big ten. 3rd down specialist slot receiver.

  4. Comments: 21384
    Feb 01, 2012 at 4:11 PM

    Finishing plays is something the coaches can take care of. I'm not concerned about that. His speed, however, is something you can't coach. You either have that, or you don't.

    Do you think that his commitment changes how we view Justice Hayes? A lot of people thought Hayes would be a slot receiver/running back. Does Norfleet's commitment make Hayes more of a slot receiver now?

  5. Comments: 21384
    Feb 01, 2012 at 4:12 PM

    Finishing plays is something the coaches can take care of. I'm not concerned about that too much. His speed is something you can't pass up; you either have elite speed, or you don't. He does.

    I'm curious to know what you think about how this affects Justice Hayes. I know a lot of us thought Hayes would be a slot receiver/running back. Does Norfleet's commitment make Hayes more of a slot guy now?

  6. Comments: 21384
    Feb 01, 2012 at 5:02 PM

    Have you seen him play in person?

    FYI, I've spoken with an opposing high school coach who thought Norfleet compared very favorably with Drake Johnson.

  7. Comments: 21384
    Feb 01, 2012 at 5:59 PM

    Ugh, sorry for the double post. I submitted once but it didn't say whether it submitted or not.

  8. Comments: 21384
    Feb 01, 2012 at 10:15 PM

    On paper (and, actually, on film), Norfleet reminds me a bit of Teric Jones from the '09 class. Pocket-sized jets …

    Norfleet seems to have more lateral shiftiness. Any comments on that from the TTB crowd?

    • Comments: 21384
      Feb 01, 2012 at 10:20 PM

      I can see the comparison between Teric Jones and Norfleet, but Norfleet is a tougher runner and, like you said, he has more lateral quickness. I always thought Jones would be okay as a slot receiver because he didn't have the build to shake off linebackers and defensive linemen, but he had the quickness to make some things happen in open space. Jones was never going to be a special player, though.

      Norfleet's just as fast as Jones or a bit faster, but he'll also be able to run the ball and should be a good punt returner, too.

  9. Comments: 21384
    Feb 01, 2012 at 11:17 PM

    How tall really is Norefleet? 24/7 and our commitment post list him at 5'8'', Scout and Rivals say 5'7'' while MGoBlog says 5'6'' "on a good day." Someone grab their tape measure and head to Detroit!

    • Comments: 21384
      Feb 02, 2012 at 12:41 PM

      I think ESPN has him listed at 5'9", so who really knows? I decided to take the middle/slightly optimistic road and list him at 5'8".

    • Comments: 21384
      Feb 20, 2012 at 2:38 PM

      he will be the greatest returner michigan ever had. don't know about his potential at other positions though. i guess they can put him in plays where he will get the ball in space and allow him to dazzle.

      But really, if you had to play offense, defense, returner, punter, kicker, and sometimes quarterback; you would jog into the endzone after a 60 yard run too. You are so full of crap sometimes Thunder. The kid is superbly tough and started 4years of hard hitting football while being the smallest guy on the field every day.

      You cant show me more than one guy in the 2012 class with a better highlight tape than his. He will be special, and might just average 10 carries a game in his junior year & after

  10. Comments: 21384
    Mar 07, 2012 at 4:17 PM

    Am I right in thinking his floor is Teric Jones, his ceiling is Darren Sproles, and his expectation should be Vincent Smith?

    • Comments: 21384
      Mar 07, 2012 at 4:18 PM

      I think his floor is higher than Teric Jones…but otherwise, yeah, that's probably pretty accurate.

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