Michigan's Fitz Toussaint speaks: 'I let my team down, I let my family down'
ANN ARBOR -- Fitz Toussaint rushed for more than 1,000 yards in his first season as Michigan's featured back. But when the Wolverines opened their season against perhaps the best rush defense in college football, Toussaint was 1,200 miles away.
He didn't make the trip to Texas following an offseason DUI arrest. Instead, he watched the game at the home of assistant Michigan basketball coach Bacari Alexander, emotions running high as Alabama pummeled his teammates 41-14.
"It's been tough, because I let my team down, I let my family down," said a remorseful Toussaint, who has pleaded guilty to a DUI charge stemming from the July arrest. "I'm just trying to build back on everything day by day.
"It was definitely an educational experience. Guys like my age, they feel they know everything up until they get into trouble, so that day really brought a lot of things to me and show me about my character."
Toussaint addressed the media Tuesday for the first time since his arrest. He has been reinstated by coach Brady Hoke and will play Saturday against Air Force (3:30 p.m., ABC).
The junior said he once wondered whether that opportunity would come.
"I did worry, because these guys are my brothers and I respect the coaches, and I know they respect me, and I let them down," Toussaint said. "So whatever decision (Hoke) made, I had to agree with.
"I have tremendous respect for him, and I'm glad he stuck with me through this situation."
Toussaint was arrested July 21 after running a red light in Ann Arbor. He didn't say much Tuesday about the incident itself, other than he made a "bad decision" and wasn't "accountable" or "trustworthy."
He told police when he was pulled over that he was drinking beer, records show. At a court appearance last month, where he pleaded guilty to operating a vehicle while visibly impaired, he said he was drinking brandy at his apartment.
He registered a .12 blood-alcohol content and was jailed by Saline police, who executed the arrest. He was released early the following morning.
"It was hard (being in jail), but i knew I had guys who were going to support me," Toussaint said. "I let my team down, I let my family down."
Teammates have been supportive. Toussaint said quarterback Denard Robinson has been particularly helpful, calling him and frequently visiting his apartment. Jordan Kovacs also visited regularly.
Robinson and Kovacs are Michigan's two captains.
Toussaint was held out of Michigan's first week of practice. Hoke deliberated over whether the tailback would play in the opener, and announced the day before the game Toussaint would not play.
Toussaint said he found out about that decision earlier in the week, but was not surprised by the call.
"I kind of knew I'd messed up, knew I was ready to face the consequences," he said.
The effects of the arrest could linger into Week 2, as offensive coordinator Al Borges said earlier Tuesday that Toussaint has not yet earned back his starter's role. That decision will be made later this week.
"I'm going to go out there and work every day, day by day, and try to earn it back," Toussaint said. "I feel good. Just going out there, picking up certain things and I still have support from different guys and just being with my brothers has really helped me.
"I still have to go out there and do everything I have to do to build on everything. I'm still in pretty good shape."
Senior Vincent Smith started against the Crimson Tide, and sophomore Thomas Rawls also received action. They struggled, though, combining for 42 yards on 19 carries.
Toussaint averaged 86.8 yards in his 12 games last year, and 118.0 yards in the six games for which he was the designated featured back.
It was difficult for him to watch his teammates toil without him.
"I was definitely emotional," he said. "It was tough. I let my team down, I wish I was out there to play with them. "
Instead, he watched it at the home of Alexander.
"They showed me mad support, and I was glad they had me over to watch it," Toussaint said. "They support us every day. They wanted me to feel wanted."