It didn’t take long for Dennis Norfleet to establish himself as one of the most explosive players on Michigan’s roster last year. The task for the coaching staff has been determining how best to utilize that ability. They attempted capitalize on it last year by featuring him as a return man. For 2013 they’ve moved him from running back to slot with hopes reaping much greater dividends. Thus far in fall camp the returns have been extremely positive.
“Very impressive,” Michigan receiver coach Jeff Hecklinski said of Norfleet’s practice showing. “Very impressive. Obviously I like his energy. Dennis is always a high energy kid. Always has a smile on his face. I think he has found a home here with us on the perimeter. We can utilize his skill set. He has great hands, he is picking up the routes and learning how to run the routes, and he is obviously very talented and skilled.”
“I’ll tell you what he is… he is faster than I thought he was… which is obviously good. Anytime you can add to your speed on the outside you’re improving your football team.”
While Norfleet’s latest transition has its share of challenges, the process has been eased a great deal by the assistance of the other players at his position.
“Right now it’s going great,” stated Norfleet. “I’m actually learning from the whole wide receiver team, and Coach [Jeff Hecklinski] has actually been a great coach. The whole senior crew has actually been a good help to me. [They’re] making me learn the play book and leading me in the right direction on where I need to go. They’ve all been a big help to me basically.”
At the same time that helpfulness has done nothing to stymie the competition. Doing so is impossible whenever Norfleet is involved.
“Dennis is a competitor,” Hecklinski said matter-of-factly. “The one thing about Dennis is he is highly competitive. I think no matter where you put Dennis he would excel. Just the ability to get him in space… that enables him to use his skillset more on the perimeter than it would in between the tackles in Big Ten games.”
“We’re excited to see his progression, but he has a long way to go like they all do.”
If Norfleet continues to shine over the next few weeks the odds of him being unleashed for a few special plays likely increase. If that is indeed the plan the former Detroit King star isn’t tipping his hand.
“Right now I’m just leaving it up to Coach Heck and whatever he’s got in store,” Norfleet said confidently. “That’s what I’m waiting for.”