Reports: Dennis Norfleet kicked off football team

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By Zach Shaw, Summer Managing Sports Editor
Published May 12, 2015

As first reported by Tuesday afternoon, rising senior receiver and kick returner Dennis Norfleet has been dismissed from the Michigan football team.

No formal announcement has been made by the program, but according to Dale Harvel, Norfleet's coach at Detroit's Martin Luther King High School, the decision to remove Norfleet from the team was a disciplinary one.

"Evidently he was dismissed from the team, Dennis informed us he was no longer on the team," Harvel told MLive Tuesday afternoon. "Something about a disciplinary thing between him and (Michigan coach Jim) Harbaugh. Whether it was academics or something internal, I'm not sure. He just said they had a disagreement and he was let go."

Though unconfirmed, many sites are reporting that academics were the primary part of the decision, and that Norfleet skipped at least one final exam in the 2015 winter term. It remains unclear if Norfleet will remain a student at the University of Michigan, where he was majoring in general studies.

"His main concern right now, he's been up there going on four years, is getting his degree -- whether it be from Michigan or any other institution," Harvel said. "He was disappointed. But if you've been following him, he's basically done nothing but return kicks there. He understood what his role was there at Michigan."

"Once coach Harbaugh became the coach, I didn't see his role expanding any more than it was."

Yet as of the team's Spring game April 4, the opposite seemed true. Norfleet could be seen at cornerback and receiver, and garnered praise from his coach for his versatility.

"We started playing Dennis as a nickel corner, and he took right to it," Harbaugh said. "From the first day, he was pretty darn good, and I think we are going to look at the possibility of Dennis being a three-way player — offense, defense and special teams. We are excited about that."

Arriving at Michigan in 2012 as primarily a running back, Norfleet was relegated to kick and punt returning duties. He thrived in the role, often energizing the team and setting school records in kick return attempts (90) and kick return yardage (2,203), but only gained 287 yards of offense in his three seasons as a Wolverine.