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Wolverines RB Fitzgerald Toussaint Suspended For Opener Against Alabama

Michigan starting tailback Fitzgerald Toussaint has been suspended and will not play in the Wolverines’ much-anticipated season opener at Cowboys Stadium against second-ranked Alabama.

Head coach Brady Hoke made the announcement on Friday, saying his team’s leading rusher from a year ago would join backup defensive end Frank Clark along the sidelines. Toussaint did not make the trip to Texas.

“The decision was not easy,” Hoke said, “but I feel it is in the best interest of this program and for these kids, and those always will be my priorities. We have choices every day, and you have to be accountable to this program, your teammates, your family and the University of Michigan.”

His loss means the eighth-ranked Wolverines will be minus one of their most potent weapons when they face one of college football’s most feared defenses.

Toussaint rushed for 1,041 yards and nine touchdowns last season. The redshirt junior pleaded guilty on Tuesday to a reduced charge of operating a vehicle while visually impaired after having been charged in late July for operating a vehicle while intoxicated. That night, Toussaint had a 0.12 blood-alcohol level, .04 over the legal limit in Michigan.

Clark, a sophomore who was fighting for a starting spot at rush end, was charged in July with second-degree home invasion, a felony. He has yet to be arraigned.

Both have been practicing with the team after sitting out the early part of Michigan’s fall camp. On the depth chart for the game against Alabama that was released Monday, Toussaint was listed as the starting running back and Clark was listed as the backup at rush end behind junior Jibreel Black.

“These are our sons,” Hoke said. “These are real lives, and I think too often many people forget that. It’s not always just about football, or a football decision. It’s about teaching life lessons, and if this helps these kids or someone else make a right decision later, then we’ve won. That is ultimately what we are here for, to help them grow and mature to become better sons, fathers, husbands and members of society.

“They are good young men who made poor choices, and we will continue to support them as members of our team and family.”

The Wolverines will likely use running backs Thomas Rawls, Vincent Smith, Justice Hayes perhaps along with newcomers Dennis Norfleet and Drake Johnson against the reigning national champion Crimson Tide.

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