In the American judicial system, all suspects are innocent until proven guilty. This is no exception where allegedly redshirted junior Fitzgerald Toussaint and sophomore Frank Clark have both are indefinitely suspended due to their recent arrests.
This is a metaphorically tough pill to swallow for most Michigan fans, as we are so close to the start of the season. With Toussaint guaranteed the starting running back position, those plans may need to be put on hold until the court cases for both players conclude.
So, how do these indefinite suspensions (for how long, no one knows) will effect the Wolverines? Let’s break it down. All scales are done out of five.
Touissaint was the go-to-guy for the better majority of the football season last year. Losing someone like him is an obvious great loss that will be felt by Denard Robinson and the rest of the Wolverine offense. Touissaint looked poised and ready to become an offensive leader this year and was ready to take control of the reigns for good. Right now, that’s up in the air.
Position Depth: 3.5
The rest of the running back corps is not necessarily a failed group of athletes. Senior Vincent Smith could be a guy you could see take a decent amount of snaps. Since he doesn’t fit the every-down-back type of mold, he could still be useful. Sophomore Thomas Rawls, who the coaches think highly of now seems to be the likely candidate to take over Toussaints spot IF he misses playing time due to suspension. Rawls has seen limited playing time his first year, so his skillset is relatively unknown. Sizing up at 5’10”, 219 lbs. Rawls fits the mold of the bruising back that would fit Michigan’s style of offense. Another kid looking to make some noise is redshirted freshman Justice Hayes is also looking to snatch some playing time from under the other players nose. He may just get his wish. This speedy back could compliment Rawls nicely if everything goes as planned.
Severity of Punishment?: I’d say, and this is not an expert opinion, anywhere from at least one to four games, possibly even six. Offenses like alleged drunk driving will not be tolerated at Michigan, and Brady Hoke has been known to punish kids accordingly. Also, the outcome of the court case will also determine the length and severity of punishment as well.
|Courtesy of AnnArbor.com|
Though Frank Clark was a budding young talent, he didn’t see much playing time as a freshman. Playing in about ten games in a reserve role. Clark is most famous for his interception against Virginia Tech in the Sugar Bowl. Since Clark was in a competition with Brennen Beyer to see who would start at the weak-side defensive end position, his magnitude of loss on the field can only be measured once the season starts (granted he misses playing time).
Position Depth: 3
The depth at weak-side defensive end is hard to measure. Since Beyer, true sophomore, had also limited playing time last year. Both are talented young players that could have an impact on the field. But, for right now, the depth is hard to read simply due to the fact of limited experience. With the potential absence of Clark, this allows true freshman Tom Strobel and Chris Wormley to potentially come in and surprise everyone. Hoke and Mattison have not been afraid to start freshman, this could be their big break.
Severity of Punishment?:
This is a serious allegation, that will not be taken lightly if Clark is found guilty of this crime. The punishment could range from anywhere to half a season, full season, or worse. Like I’ve said before, the details have not been fully released and we don’t know exactly what happened. But, once the legal details work itself out, it’ll be clear what Hoke must do. We must trust his judgement.