Michigan Wolverines: Antonio Poole

CHICAGO -- Michigan’s running back questions won’t be answered next week, but the Wolverines are hoping they are going to start to sort out who will be running the ball for them soon after.

And one of those candidates, Fitzgerald Toussaint, is close to entirely back to health.

“He’s been working hard under the radar,” safety Thomas Gordon said. “Getting back from that leg injury. He’s a hard worker and I can’t wait to see him get back on that field because we hated to see him go out last year.

Fitzgerald Toussaint
Mike DiNovo/US PresswireFitzgerald Toussaint is close to being recovered from a broken leg but has yet to face contact.
“He’s been working so hard since then to get back on the field.”

Gordon said Toussaint has his speed and has cut well, but the redshirt senior from Youngstown, Ohio, has yet to take an actual hit with pads on since he broke his leg against Iowa on Nov. 17, 2012.

He missed spring practice rehabbing but insisted by the end of the spring he was close to being healthy. He rushed for 1,041 yards as a sophomore but struggled last season, rushing for only 514 yards and five touchdowns.

Toussaint will end up competing in the fall with freshmen Derrick Green and Deveon Smith. Between the three of them, one of them should end up winning the job.

“We haven’t seen too much of the freshmen,” Gordon said. “But from what I hear from my strength coaches, they have been working hard.”

Hoke happier with depth

When Brady Hoke took over at Michigan in 2011, the depth at his favorite positions -- the offensive and defensive lines -- was non-existent. They barely had enough to field a team on an actual game day and the depth was littered with walk-ons.

This season, Hoke’s third in Ann Arbor, he feels a lot better about both his line play and the amount of guys around. Michigan’s depth, despite the lack of a release of an actual depth chart, should have scholarship players throughout the two-deep on both offense and defense.

“Our numbers are up,” Hoke said. “I think our competition throughout spring. I think the competition that, in how they did things through summer have improved both positions, particularly the interior of the offensive line and the interior of the defensive line.”

While he hasn’t been able to watch any of the competition for the three open interior offensive line spots yet -- Ben Braden and Kyle Kalis are the presumed leaders at guard and Jack Miller at center -- he knows what he would like to see from them by the end of August.

Hitting. A lot of hitting.

“I want to see them knock people off the football and finish blocks,” Hoke said. “And not do it with good humor.”

Poole done playing football

Michigan linebacker Antonio Poole, who redshirted as a freshman and then missed last season with a pectoral injury, will no longer play for the Wolverines.

He will remain with the program, however, as a student assistant coach. The Cincinnati native was the No. 41 linebacker in his class coming out of Winton Woods High School. He was not expected to contribute this season.
Over the next few weeks, WolverineNation will look at every position on the Michigan roster and give a depth chart analysis of each position on the roster heading into the offseason.

What happens with Michigan at weak side linebacker next season could be the key to the Wolverines’ flexibility at the position. While Desmond Morgan has been the starter for the majority of his career, holding off the now-departed Brandin Hawthorne in the process, he could be on the move after being pushed by someone younger behind him now.

It’s part of the nature of the evolution of a growing team, but whether it happens or now could be one of the more critical happenings this offseason for the Michigan defense.
Joe BoldenMiller Safrit/ESPN.comEarly enrollee linebacker Joe Bolden could be the starter at the Mike position in 2014.
It’s always fun to look into the future and guess where players will be after the next few seasons. So Tom and Chantel decided to sit down and do their best to produce the depth chart for the beginning of the 2014 season. They aren’t coaches, nor are they scouts, but this is an educated guess at what could happen over the next few seasons. View the offensive depth chart here.



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Recruiting Mailbag 

April, 23, 2012
WolverineNation runs a recruiting mailbag feature every week and conducts a live chat in the weeks when the mailbag doesn't run.

Here's a look at this week's questions from the readers:

Q: Paul, Pasadena, Calif.: I see so much #Team134 on the internet that I'm mistakenly starting to think of Michigan as Team 134 even before this year's Team 133. Do you think this type of branding has made a tangible impact on recruiting? If so, do you think the next recruiting classes will have similar success, or is this more attributed to Shane Morris and other recruits’ efforts?

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The Michigan defense has been a question mark the past few seasons to say the least. Dropping in rankings, and without a lot of help along the recruiting trail, it seemed as though the defense had bottomed out. That is until head coach Brady Hoke took over.

Not only did Hoke and defensive coordinator Greg Mattison turn around the defense in what seemed like an overnight transformation, Hoke and his staff also made it a point to hit the recruiting trail hard on the defensive side.

They took over at the tail end of the 2011 class and secured cornerback Blake Countess' commitment, also bringing in linebacker Antonio Poole, defensive backs Raymon Taylor and Tamani Carter and defensive ends Frank Clark and Keith Heitzman.

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A couple of seasons ago, it was among the worst units on the Michigan roster. Now, however, the Wolverines linebacking corps enters this spring as one of the deepest and strongest units on the team.

Michigan loses depth at the position in J.B. Fitzgerald and Brandon Herron, but has the majority of its rotation players returning from a season ago. Linebacker is one of two positions to actually get deeper from the fall to the spring due to early enrollees.

Expect this position group to make positive movement this season, but here's what Michigan is looking at this spring.

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Michigan C Cites Concussions In Decision To Quit
Joe Schad discusses how concussions and a concern over long-term health have helped Michigan center Jack Miller decide not to play football his senior year.