Senior wide receiver Darryl Stonum has been dismissed from the Michigan football team for a violation of team rules, according to a statement released by the Athletic Department on Tuesday afternoon.
Stonum was redshirted during the 2011 season after a second-offense arrest in May for driving while visually impaired — the first offense came in September 2009 — and was expected to return for a fifth-year senior season in the fall. But Stonum was jailed two weeks ago after violating his probation by driving on a suspended license and received a 10-day jail sentence.
Michigan coach Brady Hoke made the decision that Stonum would not return for the 2012 season.
“I love Darryl and wish him nothing but the absolute best,” Hoke said in the release. “However, there is a responsibility and a higher standard you must be accountable to as a University of Michigan football student-athlete. That does not and will not change.
“It’s unfortunate because I believe he has grown a great deal as a person since the beginning of the season. My hope is that maturing process continues.”
In three seasons, Stonum started 25 games, catching 76 passes for 1,008 yards and six touchdowns. He also saw time on kick and punt returns, setting the program’s single-season kickoff return mark with 39 returns for 1,001 yards in his sophomore season.
“I appreciate everything the University of Michigan, (Athletic Director) Dave Brandon and Coach Hoke have done for me,” Stonum said in the release. “I look forward to continuing my football career down the road, but more importantly, right now I’m focused on graduating from Michigan this Spring. I understand only I am responsible for my actions. I’m sad about how all of this turned out, but I completely understand.
“I love this school and my team and will miss them all greatly. But I’ll always be a Wolverine. I know I have grown and matured as a person over the last nine months, and I will continue to learn and grow every day. I want to thank everyone for all of their support, and I hope they will support me in the future.”
Stonum practiced with the team all season, helping out as an experienced practice squad receiver. When the media would come around, Stonum would be ushered indoors and out of sight.
But he took the trip with Team 132 to the Allstate Sugar Bowl in New Orleans, being part of everything up until the game on Jan. 3. In the celebration after Michigan’s 23-20 overtime win, he gazed around with the same awe as his teammates.
Stonum was the first one to look toward next season.
The redshirted receiver was ready to get back to playing after a missed season.
“It was a learning experience,” Stonum told the Daily as confetti spewed into the air at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. “It was pretty hard. But everything happens for a reason. I’m just glad coach Hoke kept me around to be a part of this. And I’m back — I’m back now.”
His teammates were impressed with Stonum’s work ethic and attitude all fall.
“He’s embraced what happened to him and has learned from it,” said senior tight end and team captain Kevin Koger. “A lot of guys might get suspended and then they’d just transfer. But he stuck it out.
“When he’s been through everything he’s been through, and all the turmoil and all the speculation, I’m just glad he stayed.”
Stonum’s classmate and best friend, fifth-year senior wide receiver Junior Hemingway, was the star of the Sugar Bowl, catching a pair of memorable touchdown passes to win MVP honors.
They had spent four years together, and Stonum missed out on their last season together. It was bittersweet.
“It just motivates me for next year,” Stonum said, watching his teammates celebrate.
“They’re going to see a beast.”
Michigan’s team plane touched down the next day, Jan. 4. Later that day, Stonum wrote, “Guess who’s back!” on Twitter. Someone asked if he’d be playing the next season. Stonum replied, “Y’all answer this for him.”
The next morning, Stonum drove to meet with his probation officer. He was pulled over on a suspended license and arrested for violating probation.
It was the last straw for Hoke, who witnessed Stonum charged with driving while visibly impaired and stopped twice for driving on a suspended license.