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August 31, 2012

Fitzgerald Toussaint, Frank Clark suspended for Alabama game

Redshirt junior running back Fitzgerald Toussaint and sophomore defensive end Frank Clark will not participate in the Wolverines' season-opening game against Alabama, according to a Michigan athletic department release.

Toussaint, who, earlier this week, pled guilty to driving while visibly impaired charges, rushed for 1,040 yards last season. Clark is charged with home invasion but has not yet been arraigned.

Neither will join the Wolverines in Dallas for the game.

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

"These are our sons. 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.

Without Toussaint, Michigan will rely on sophomore running back Thomas Rawls, who has 13 career carries, senior running back Vincent Smith and redshirt freshman running back Justice Hayes to shoulder the load in the running game.

Rawls has impressed the Maize And Blue coaches this offseason, and will most likely be the go-to option for the between-the-tackles power run game.

Smith, who has rushed for more than 1,000 yards in his career, is a smaller back but has proven he can provide some play-making ability. Hayes has not yet seen the field for the Wolverines.

Clark was battling for playing time at the rush end spot. Junior Jibreel Black, who has also been practicing at defensive tackle this offseason, is listed No. 1 on the depth chart at the position. Sophomore Brennen Beyer and possibly true freshman Mario Ojemudia may also see playing time against the Crimson Tide.

According to the release, both Toussaint and Clark will serve a one-game suspension. Both will be back for Michigan's home opener vs. Air Force next weekend.

"They are good young men who made poor choices, and we will continue to support them as members of our team and family," Hoke said in the statement.


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