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Posted on Wed, Feb 1, 2012 : 1:07 a.m.

Reports: Michigan football team picks up surprise commit from 4-star Detroit tailback Dennis Norfleet

By Kyle Meinke

A supposed quiet signing day for the Michigan football team got off to a loud start in the wee hours of Wednesday morning.

The Wolverines picked up a verbal commitment shortly after midnight from Detroit tailback Dennis Norfleet, according to multiple reports. He becomes the team's 25th member of a class that already ranked No. 5, according to Scout, and No. 4, according to Rivals.

The Michigan recruiting class

    Five stars
    Kyle Kalis (OL, Ohio), Ondre Pipkins (DL, Missouri)

    Four stars
    Blake Bars (OL, Tennessee), Joe Bolden* (LB, Ohio), Amara Darboh (WR, Sierra Leone), Dennis Norfleet (RB/KR/PR, Michigan), Royce Jenkins-Stone (LB, Michigan), Erik Magnuson (OL, California), Terry Richardson (CB, Michigan), James Ross (LB, Michigan), Tom Strobel (DE, Ohio), Jarrod Wilson* (S, Ohio)

    Three stars
    Ben Braden (OL, Michigan), Jehu Chesson (WR, Missouri), Jeremy Clark (S, Kentucky), Devin Funchess (TE, Michigan), Allen Gant (S, Ohio), Matt Godin (DL, Michigan), Willie Henry (DL, Ohio), Drake Johnson (RB, Michigan), Sione Houma (FB, Utah), Mario Ojemudia (DL, Michigan), Kaleb Ringer* (LB, Ohio), A.J. Williams (TE, Ohio), Chris Wormley (DL, Ohio)

    Breakdown by state
    Ohio: 9
    Michigan: 9
    Missouri: 2
    Iowa: 1
    California: 1
    Utah: 1
    Tennessee: 1
    Kentucky: 1

    NOTE: Stars given by Rivals
    * -- Already enrolled in school

After securing a commitment from Ohio defensive lineman Willie Henry on Monday, Michigan was expected to stand pat through signing day, as the bulk of the 21 players not already on campus faxed in their letters of intent.

Norfleet, who had been committed to Cincinnati, had other plans after Michigan offered him Tuesday night. The four-star prospect quickly agreed to become the Wolverines' second tailback for 2012, joining Ann Arbor product Drake Johnson.

Norfleet, who stands 5-feet-7, 170 pounds, is Rivals' No. 5 all-purpose back in the country and Scout's No. 19 running back. The Detroit King product has been clocked as fast as 4.39 seconds in the 40-yard dash.

Those kinds of numbers are comparable to current Michigan backup tailback Vincent Smith, who was listed as 5-foot-8, 165 pounds coming out of Pahokee (Fla.) High School and posted a 4.62-second 40-yard time, according to Scout.

Norfleet's size and speed mean he likely will fit into the punt and kick return games, and he also could factor in as a slot receiver.

He had a prolific career at Detroit King, where he rushed for more than 5,000 yards and scored 78 touchdowns.

Most of Norfleet's offers were from low- to mid-level schools such as Cincinnati, Indiana and Central Michigan, although Alabama and Tennessee also offered him.

The Wolverines' last known target is Jordan Diamond, a four-star offensive lineman who is expected to announce Friday. So, signing day could pass relatively quietly after the late-night stunner.

But, you never know.

Kyle Meinke covers Michigan football for He can be reached at 734-623-2588, by email at and followed on Twitter @kmeinke.



Wed, Feb 1, 2012 : 4:52 p.m.

I think this was a great pickup by Michigan. Norfleet has some excellent speed and great acceleration. I already have dreams of him catching screen passes behind our dominant OL!

Dumpsterfire Jones

Wed, Feb 1, 2012 : 1:51 p.m.

What was the holdup on the offer? Grades? Too small? Not being jerkstore just trying to figure out such a late offer for a skilled kid.


Wed, Feb 1, 2012 : 4:51 p.m.

It's probable that Michigan didn't feel they had enough scholarships to spare earlier on, and maybe were looking for someone bigger size-wise. But, maybe once some guys chose other schools, he was one of the next guys on the list they wanted. It probably had nothing to do with it, but I wonder if the Caleb Stacey decommitment from Michigan and commitment to Cinci had something to do with it. Maybe a message being sent????


Wed, Feb 1, 2012 : 4:22 p.m.

Thank you for saying jerkstore. That's all.


Wed, Feb 1, 2012 : 4:21 p.m.

They didn't want to over sign like a lot of the SEC schools who grey shirt kids. Once they lost out on the Defensive back they were pursuing who went to that school in ohio a slot opened up.


Wed, Feb 1, 2012 : 3:30 p.m.

They wanted a bigger back- but hey Alabama offered him a scholarship earlier . If he's big enough for Alabama and Saban I think we got a keeper.


Wed, Feb 1, 2012 : 1:43 p.m.

Wow the kid is an absolute burner. 10 lbs. heavier and faster than Vincent Smith!! It's blasphemy- but faster than Denard!. He's not the bigger back Michigan may have wanted but any team can use a kids with this much speed and athleticism. Especially so with the massive talented O line they are building. Scouts has him ranked as the 17th best back in the country for a reason. Great late add. I'm a huge fan of speed and athleticism. Lethal combination. Go Blue!


Wed, Feb 1, 2012 : 12:12 p.m.

Good to see. From the highlights it looks like the kid has some serious wheels. I had been thinking UM could use another skilled position player for this class, and what do you know.. they land a Skilled player. Wonder if we will see any other surprises in the coming days.


Wed, Feb 1, 2012 : 8:55 a.m.

Now if we can just land Jordan Diamond, we will have the best class in the country I believe... Big Ten Champions this year is a definite possibility with many more to come over the next 10 years... Michigan and Ohio will dominate the Big 10 the next 10 years