Michigan Football: Dennis Norfleet an Impact Freshman?
Dennis Norfleet will be entering the 2012 season as a lightly recruited back who could actually become a key contributor to the Michigan team.
First of all, Kyle Meinke of annarbor.com is reporting that the diminutive running back is going to have a great shot at landing the full-time role as kick returner.
"Dennis is a guy that has a specific skill, when you look at a return guy," head coach Brady Hoke said on Tuesday. "He's a good hand-eye coordination guy."
Hoke went on to say, "He's not afraid. You can't be afraid when you're doing that job. It's like playing corner -- if you get beat, you better learn from it, but forget about it. I think it's the same for kick return."
Being a return man can be a thankless duty, and I strongly believe that one mess up can color the view of a player through the fans' eyes for a while.
That is why special teams can build up or break down a player—just ask Kyle Williams of the San Francisco 49ers.
But anyway, should Norfleet's role really be reduced to simply being a return man?
By no means is that a slight on that position, but more so a reflection on how the team may be failing to utilize his playmaking ability.
At only 5'7" and 180 pounds, Norfleet is tiny, but he also has that breakaway speed that very few players can ever claim to have.
In fact, in the same article mentioned above, 21-year veteran Michigan running backs coach Fred Jackson said Norfleet is as fast as anyone he has coached:
"Norfleet is as quick as any kid at Michigan since I've been here. I haven’t seen a guy that quick."
It's unlikely that Norfleet will see a lot of playing time in the Michigan backfield, but I'm not against the Michigan native getting spread out across the field and given the opportunity to make some plays.
After all, Jacquizz Rodgers was a very similar size coming out of high school, and look at the immediate impact he had with Oregon State.
Same thing with Kendall Hunter of Oklahoma State.
Norfleet won't be catered to in the same way these players were simply because of the Michigan way of playing offense, but it wouldn't hurt to get him the ball on short passing plays and screens.
Scout says that Norfleet is one of the most explosive players of all the 2012 prospects and that he has good enough hands to be a great slot receiver.
Norfleet may be small, but so is Maurice Jones-Drew.
I'm not saying he is as big, only that he is far more physical than you would be forgiven for thinking he is if you have only seen his measurables and no games.
So, do you think Norfleet has the talent to not only be great on special teams, but also on offense?
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