Norfleet moves to CB in practice for bowl game

ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Brady Hoke wasn’t giving away many secrets in one of his last meetings with the media before Michigan leaves for the Outback Bowl next weekend.

In a brief news conference on Thursday, Hoke’s biggest news was that freshman kick returner Dennis Norfleet is now practicing at cornerback instead of running back. Despite Michigan’s struggles at tailback, Norfleet only got two carries for 14 yards, and at 5-foot-7, he’s going to struggle at cornerback as well.

Norfleet played both positions at Detroit Martin Luther King HS, but was expected to be an impact player at tailback in college. Instead, he found himself serving mainly as a kickoff returner, although he also returned two punts.

Hoke thinks that, despite the short preparation (Michigan will only practice twice more before leaving for Florida) Norfleet could help the team in the Jan. 1 game against South Carolina.

“He’s done a nice job so far,” Hoke said. “We moved him two weeks ago. we’ve talked about it for a while — to get another good athlete on the field. He’s a good football player and this gives him an opportunity to get on the field.”

Norfleet didn’t play much defensive back as a senior at King, so Hoke is impressed at how quickly he’s picking up the position.

“He played it as a sophomore and junior, but his coach decided he was more valuable doing other things,” Hoke said. “His ball skills are pretty darn good, and he’s got good quickness. Obviously, he’s not the biggest guy, but he loves to play.”

Hoke also announced that wide receiver Jerald Robinson left the program. Robinson, who spent last summer dealing with legal issues, caught just five passes this season and didn’t score a touchdown.