Michigan fifth-year senior running back Fitz Toussaint returned from a devastating broken leg injury to dress for Saturday's spring game, and he probably could have done more, head coach Brady Hoke said Saturday. The biggest surprise, though, came when Hoke announced redshirt junior linebacker Jake Ryan could return from his torn ACL sooner than expected.
Ryan suffered his non-contact injury a few weeks ago.
"I'm not a doctor, but he could possibly be back by mid-October," Hoke announced to the surprise of the media. "Some people react differently.
"One thing, though, our depth is better than it was two years ago. Cam Gordon had a really good winter when you look at gains, how his body has changed. He's a senior, understands the expectation. When Jake went down, we put Cam back there out in front and he responded well. [Junior] Brennen Beyer is a young man we moved from rush end to play SAM. They've had great competition there."
Redshirt sophomore cornerback Blake Countess ran well but didn't participate in any scrimmage situations. He'll be good to go by the Aug. 31 opener against Central Michigan, Hoke said. So, too, will Toussaint.
"Fitz has made really good strides - I think his progress has been good," Hoke said.
The interior offensive line struggled at times Saturday with redshirt freshmen Kyle Kalis and Ben Braden flanking redshirt sophomore Jack Miller. Hoke said he wasn't concerned.
"We're going to focus on all of it," Hoke said. "What we do from here on as a team, what they do together and the seniors and all that, that's really going to tell you at the end of the day. Objectively, there were some good plays offensively and some good plays defensively."
The competition has been tremendous, he added Thursday on WBBL.
"They way these guys got after it in the winter from the weight roo,, to conditioning to combative drills you do, they've progressed in spring," he said. "Miller and Graham Glasgow have done a great job at center. The competition is making them both better. Joey Burzynski is in the mix a bit. The guards, Braden has really done a nice job. [Freshman] Kyle Bosch has really shown he's got the toughness and ability to be one of guys to knock guys off the line of scrimmage."
Walk-on Brian Cleary is Gardner's back-up now, but freshman Shane Morris could well assume the role this fall.
"There's no question Shane will come in ready to compete," Hoke told WBBL. "He's a smart young man, obviously a gifted young guy. We're excited about what he'll add to our depth."
Hoke mentioned during a recent teleconference he could go the JuCo route for another quarterback.
"It could happen, and then it might not happen," he said. "He'd better be pretty good [if we do]. That would be the first, and what would fit what we want to do with scheme, what we want in our quarterbacks."
Sophomore tight end Devin Funchess left with an apparent arm injury after taking a hit following a short pass, but he seemed to shake it off.
"He'll be all right," Hoke said.
Punter Will Hagerup, who has been suspended indefinitely, did not participate this spring and was not in attendance Saturday. Hoke had no further word on his status.
Finally, freshman tight end Jake Butt caught a touchdown pass from Gardner during a scrimmage situation to the delight of his quarterback, who jumped on him and brought him to the ground in celebration.
"Jake being here has made us stronger at that position," Hoke said. "He's a guy who can catch the ball in space and can run well, but also block at the line of scrimmage pretty well for a guy who has been here since January. We're excited about what he brings added to the guys who are here."