Michigan preparing suspended tailback Fitz Toussaint as though he will play against Alabama
Melanie Maxwell | AnnArbor.com
But Toussaint will be prepared as though he will play in that game when he rejoins the Wolverines at Monday's practice.
"Brady just said to prepare him, and that’s what we’re doing," running backs coach Fred Jackson said Sunday during the team's media day. "I treat him like nothing happened. I’m preparing him, because the kid made a mistake, he’s paying for it and I think I got to treat him as if everything is just status quo so he’s ready to go."
Toussaint was indefinitely suspended following a drunken-driving arrest July 21, and held out of Michigan's first seven practices. He'll join camp Monday, although Hoke said he has yet to decide whether the junior will play in the season opener Sept. 1.
If Toussaint misses that game, it would be a blow for the Wolverines, considering the Crimson Tide feature the nation's reigning No. 1 rush defense.
And it would be a blow for Toussaint, who is coming off a breakout season. He rushed for 1,041 yards last year, his first as a starter, and is the Big Ten's third-leading returning rusher at the position.
"I see the kid walking around -- he’s a hurt kid," Jackson said. "The mistake he made, he regrets it, he’s paying for it, he’s sorry for what he did."
Jackson said he talks to Toussaint every day and that although he is disappointed, he is holding up well.
"I try to see him and encourage him, because I think the kid’s got a great future," Jackson said. "He’s been told what to do and hopefully he’s followed that plan. I look forward to seeing how he looks on Monday.”
The week off is a setback for a player who otherwise had a tremendous offseason. Toussaint bulked up to 202 pounds, after playing last year at 195, and still managed to increase his speed, according to Jackson.
Toussaint worked out individually at Schembechler Hall in the past week as he tried to stay sharp for when he was reinstated.
Sophomore Thomas Rawls and senior Vincent Smith, as well as sophomore Justice Hayes, received the bulk of the practice snaps at tailback in the first week. Rawls is expected to be named the starter if Toussaint misses time.