Name: Dennis Norfleet
Weight: 168 lbs.
High school: Detroit (MI) King
Position: Wide receiver/kick returner
Jersey number: #23
Last year: I ranked Norfleet #24 and said he would be the starting kickoff returner, a backup punt returner, and a backup wide receiver. He returned 19 kickoffs for 438 yards (23.1 yards/return) and 10 punts for 38 yards (3.8 yards/return); he caught 15 passes for 111 yards (7.4 yards/catch); and he ran 9 times for 64 yards (7.1 yards/carry).
Norfleet's last calendar year at Michigan has been disappointing. Despite Michigan lacking playmakers, he touched the ball only occasionally on offense (24 offensive touches total). His kickoff returns were average, and his punt returns were subpar. When it looked like he finally scored his first collegiate touchdown, it was called back due to a penalty. Then this past spring, he skipped a final exam and found himself dismissed from the team . . . sort of. I am including Norfleet on the list for a couple reasons. First of all, he still appears on Michigan's official roster. And secondly, despite previous reports that it would be nearly impossible for him to work his way back onto the team, rumors are circulating that he just might be able to return to the squad.
No official word has been passed down yet, and we may not know until fall camp starts. Regardless, I promised to rank all players where I saw them fitting, and he has dropped 22 spots from last season. Michigan experimented with him as a slot receiver last season, and he struggled to catch the ball downfield, though he has shown good enough hands on bubble screens. They also used him occasionally out of the backfield, where he averaged 7.1 yards/carry and caught a couple screen passes. Jim Harbaugh's staff experimented with him at cornerback in the spring game, and in fairness to Norfleet, his torching in that scrimmage came after very little practice time at corner (Norfleet also practiced at cornerback in 2012). But the biggest reason for the drop to #46 is that Jabrill Peppers seems slated to steal Norfleet's return duties. Norfleet would still likely see some action because Peppers will need a rest or might get dinged, but a backup returner without much value as a position player doesn't seem extremely vital to the team's success.
Prediction: Backup slot receiver, backup returner