Report: Michigan CB Dennis Norfleet moving back to offense
The speedster started all last season at kick returner as a freshman, but played sparingly at tailback and was moved to cornerback before the Outback Bowl against South Carolina.
Now, it appears he's headed back to offense.
"He's supposedly going back to offense," Curtis Blackwell, Norfleet's 7-on-7 coach in high school, told The Wolverine. "They will use him in the slot and in the return game, and some as a running back. Coach (Greg) Mattison is saying he can still use him on defense and is making an argument to keep him there, but Dennis' passion is for the offense. That's where he wants to play, and from talking to Dennis it appears that's where he's going to play.
"In the bowl, it was basically a situation where he wanted the chance to earn more playing time, the numbers were down, and they let him compete there, but it was never supposed to be a permanent move."
Norfleet rushed two times for 13 yards last season. He was buried on the depth chart behind Fitz Toussaint, Thomas Rawls, Vincent Smith and Justice Hayes.
Coach Brady Hoke said there were discussions throughout the season about moving Norfleet to cornerback, where Michigan had less depth. The Wolverines were playing without injured starter Blake Countess, and eventually suspended starter J.T. Floyd before the bowl game.
So, they executed the move. Norfleet practiced at cornerback throughout bowl practices, and played some in the 33-28 loss against the Gamecocks.
He finished with one tackle.
Now, it appears that could be his only tackle.
Norfleet, who stands 5-foot-7, 161 pounds, doesn't fit into Michigan's power-running scheme, so it's highly unlikely he would ever receive significant action at tailback.
But his speed -- which helped make him the Big Ten's second-best kick returner as a freshman -- could be weaponized in change-of-pace packages.
Blackwell said Norfleet could also get a look at slot receiver, which seems to be a better fit. Michigan's depth at wideout is tenuous. Only seniors Jeremy Gallon and Drew Dileo have significant experience.
"He has to improve his blocking so he can stay on the field more and not tip his hand to the defense, but they want to use him in the slot and as a between-the-tackles runner as a change of pace," Blackwell told The Wolverine.
"This past year, him being a freshman, Michigan having a lot of backs and trying to figure out what to do with Denard Robinson, he didn't really get a big chance to showcase himself, but I think ideally you find a way to get him five to 10 touches per game because if you give him that big of an opportunity, he will flourish."
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