Last year, Jeremy Gallon led the Michigan WR’s in every important category. He led in receptions (89), receiving yards (1373), and touchdowns (9). This is going to be a tough act to follow for all Michigan receivers this year. If anyone is going to get close to the numbers that Gallon had last year, it will be junior receiver Dennis Norfleet.
Norfleet is ready to have the breakout year that he has been preparing for. At 5’8, Norfleet is the perfect slot receiver type guy. He may lack in the size department, but he sure as hell makes up for it with his 4.39 40 yard dash time. Because of his small height, his elusiveness and ability to break tackles is why he is perfect for the slot position. Being able to get a quick 5 or 6 yards on a quick slant route or a bubble screen is a key part of many college football teams offenses. See: Ohio State’s entire playbook.
The only fear I have for Norfleet is his inexperience of being a receiver. Last year, and even the year before, he was only really showed on the special teams side of the ball. He was the main kick returner on the team, and very rarely returned punts. He didn’t play a single snap of football his freshman year on the offensive side of the ball and only having six catches last season for a total of 46 yards kind of worries me. Now, I’m not saying he can’t have a great year catching the football, but don’t expect him to be a game changer right off the bat. He has to get the feel for being a wide receiver first type of player. He will have to adjust and know the plays.
With Doug Nussmeier coming in to replace Al Borges as offensive coordinator, expectations for the offense is sky high. Although the main focus of the offense is going to be on the run game, the passing game will also be focused on heavily with QB Devin Gardner being a senior and the future of the passing game being questioned.
I am more than confident that Norfleet will continue to tear it up for the special teams. His freshman year, he had a grand total of 827 yards on the kick return game, which is about an average of 63 per game. He did all of this as a freshman! He even increased his numbers during his sophomore year, totaling in 938 yards of kick return, averaging about 72 yards per game.
He has yet to return a kick, but I believe it will happen more than once this season. He is just too shifty of a player to not be able to return it at least one time. If the offense lives up to the hype, Norfleet could end up having a Jeremy Gallon like season.
Expectations are high for not just Norfleet, but the entire offense as a whole. Norfleet doesn’t need Gardner to have a fantastic season in order for himself to have a fantastic season. Making a QB look even better is what separates the good receivers from the best receivers.
At the end of the season, I expect Norfleet to be the go to receiver. I just don’t think that anyone else has the potential to be an amazing receiver on this team. Funchess will be good, but Norfleet will be the better of the bunch. He will have his ups and downs to start the season just like everyone else. Getting a new offensive coordinator always comes with a little preparation and time to get adjusted to the new offense. With all of this said, I have high hopes for Norfleet and the rest of this Wolverine squad.