Friday, August 3, 2012

Recapping 2012 Commit Dennis Norfleet

Next up on the list is Michigan's signing day surprise, touted running back Dennis Norfleet.  The highly touted back was committed so the University of Cincinnati, but on signing day he pulled the switcheroo and decommited from Cincinnati and pledged his allegiance to Michigan.  Dennis was a huge get for Coach Hoke because he brings many talents to the team that no other individual in the 2012 recruiting does for the future.

Dennis is definitely a smaller guy, but I would go as far as comparing him to Darren Sproles.  Dennis is from Michigan and went to Detroit King high school.  He was the key playmaker on offense for his high school team and for good reason.  He's a smaller guy, as I said, but he carried for 292 times for 2,552 yards in his senior season, showing that he can "grind it out".  He also played defense and ran kick returns.  Dennis was also a major basketball star for the school.  He's a major athlete and looking just at his size would be a mistake.  I used the Sproles comparison because I feel that it's a pretty just comparison.  They are both smaller backs and has the ability to make a difference in other ways, such as a receiver.  Norfleet has this ability and it's a major advantage for Michigan.



Here are the basic stats for Norfleet:

Height
5'7"
5'7"
5'7"
5'8"
Weight
170 lbs
170 lbs
165 lbs
175 lbs
Position
RB
RB
RB
RB
Rating
3*
4*
4*
4*
Position Rank
#80
#5
#19
#7
National Rank
NR
236
NR
169


Ok so they all had him pretty much listed with the same height and weight. 247 was the most generous, but these small differences mean little.  In terms of actual rankings, ESPN has him the lowest and is another example of why I question their football rankings.  All of the sites have him listed as an all-purpose running back and the only weakness that appears to bring Norfleet down is his size.  They all tout him being very quick, having great hands, and great receiving skills.  If he can put on some weight over the next year or so, he could be one of the most lethal weapons for Michigan.  I like the fact that Michigan has the "quick-hitter" type of back in Norfleet.  He's not the biggest haul in the class, but he's very talented and pretty high up on almost all the rankings.

As far as expectations for him as a freshmen, look to see Michigan throw the redshirt on him.  They still have pretty good depth at running back and pending the Fitz Toussaint situation, (I don't think he will miss significant playing time) Michigan still has a pretty solid backfield.  There were several running backs in last year's class and a few in this year's class.  To me, the only way Norfleet skips over a redshirt is if he is used as a special teams returner or a receiver.  He has great skills in these sets and could make an immediate impact.  However, it would probably be a lot safer to simply give him a redshirt for next season.  With his smaller size, injury could be a severe risk, especially on kick returns.  He should make some solid contributions in the future in these areas, but not in 2012.

Essentially, the impact for 2012 should be very small.  Norfleet was a very pleasant signing day surprise, but as one could tell from his late commitment and scholarship offer, he's not an integral part of this recruiting class.  Michigan had a spot and offered it to a very talented player.  With Al Borges' creative playmaking, I do think that Norfleet will get some interesting looks as time goes on, probably playing a decent amount of time at a receiver type position, but I think a non-redshirt season in 2012 would be a bad sign for Michigan.  It would probably mean the team desperately needs a running back, a returner, or a wide receiver.  None of those sound good, so let's go with the most straightforward conclusion, that Norfleet won't see the field until 2013 at the earliest.

Here's Nofleet's highlight video:

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