At Michigan football’s Media Day on Sunday morning, second-year coach Brady Hoke wasted little time in addressing the elephant in the room — that he still has not decided whether redshirt junior running back Fitzgerald Toussaint will play in the season opener against Alabama in light of his recent DUI.
Reporters left the room frustrated again, though, as Hoke’s only update on the situation is that Toussaint and sophomore defensive end Frank Clark, who has been suspended on home invasion charges, will begin practicing with the team on Monday.
“The guys, as teammates, we love them,” Hoke said. “But there’s consequences for their behavior. They’re paying a price, and they will continue to pay that price for a little bit.
“I haven’t made any of that (decision regarding their eligibility), and I won’t make that decision for a while.”
Should Toussaint be forced to sit out against Alabama, sophomore Thomas Rawls is widely expected to be the starter in the backfield, and the coaches continued to sing his praise on Sunday.
“First of all, a lot of people don’t realize he’s real fast,” said running backs coach Fred Jackson of Rawls. “I saw the kid in high school run a 10.6 (second) 100 meters. So the kid is real fast, but he’s powerful. And he knows that when he’s got a shallow cut to go through a guy, he’ll do it. But he’s also got enough ‘wiggle’ in him to make the guy miss and go.”
Senior running back Vincent Smith will also likely see snaps from the backfield, and his veteran presence there should help fill the void if Toussaint misses any game action.
ROUNDTREE PATCHED UP: Senior wide receiver Roy Roundtree underwent arthroscopic surgery on Friday to remove cartilage in his knee. The surgery was considered a success, and he is expected to return to practice in two weeks.
Roundtree is the veteran leader of a receiving corps that severely lacks depth following the departures of Junior Hemingway, Darryl Stonum and Martavious Odoms. With the role in mind, he continues to be a presence even as he recovers from surgery.
“Roy is great,” said wide receivers coach Jeff Hecklinski. “He’s out there helping, he’s in meetings helping. He’s great. Like I said, the expectations are for the position, and when you’re in Roy’s position, you’re expected to help.”
To potentially help shore up depth issues at receiver, it is well known that junior quarterback Devin Gardner has been occasionally lining up on the outside for snaps in practice. But coaches and players remained hush on Sunday regarding the decision to actually line up Gardner at receiver come gameday.
“I think Devin will do whatever’s best for the team,” Hecklinski said. “I think (offensive coordinator Al Borges) and coach Hoke have to sit down and say, ‘Okay, this is what we’re going to do,’ and that hasn’t taken place yet.”
Added Gardner: “They haven’t expressed to me how much I’m going to play there. I’m just trying to get reps whenever I’m not playing quarterback right now, and they haven’t said much. I guess it’s a secret for you guys — it’s a secret for me, too.”
CARTER WALKS: Hoke announced Sunday that redshirt freshman defensive back Tamani Carter has decided to leave the program, but he did not disclose any particular reason.
“Tamani Carter has decided to leave Michigan,” Hoke said. “He’s a great, young man, a tremendous kid. But he decided to leave, and I’ll leave it at that.”
The Pickerington, Ohio native was actually Hoke’s first commit at Michigan, decommitting from Minnesota and deciding to become a Wolverine just nine days after Hoke took the job back in January 2011.
Carter was not likely to see playing time this year, as he is very low on the depth chart in the secondary.
SHOELACE VERSUS BOLT: When senior quarterback Denard Robinson watched Usain Bolt defend his gold in the 100-meter and 200-meter races in the London Olympics, he was both a fan and a critic.
In high school, Robinson clocked a 10.4-second 100-meter, which wouldn’t come close to touching Bolt’s 9.6-second Olympic record. But Michigan’s quarterback noted that Bolt was a little slow getting off the blocks in his races last week.
“I think I’d get Usain Bolt in the 40-yard dash,” Robinson said. “I watched his start the other day, and I think I’d get him in the 40. See, the (60-yard dash), I don’t know about that. He’d probably start pulling away from me.”
But maybe if Bolt untied his shoelaces, Robinson would actually have a chance.