The Wolverine

October 2011

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 34 of 91

ing to be great backs, won���t.��� By the end of fall camp, Hoke not only declared Toussaint tough, but also Michigan���s starting tailback. ���With the competition and all the hard work I put in ��� that was one of my goals, to try and be a starter,��� Toussaint said. ���I knew I was surrounded by competition, and those guys were pushing me and pushing me. We were fighting.��� The fight never ends, of course. Toussaint prepares for the on-field version in seemingly incongruous ways. He likes listening to rap music to pump himself up, while eventually separating himself from the pack for some calm. ���I try to go to a quiet spot, like in the shower,��� he said. ���I take a knee and take a couple of minutes to pray.��� Whether it���s him or someone else in the Michigan backfield, Toussaint assured, the goal isn���t about the individual. ���We just want to do whatever it takes to win,��� he said. ���As long as we go out there and do what we have to do, we can win. The running backs can win by either pass blocking or running the ball. As long as we contribute to what the team is doing, we should have success.��� As long as Toussaint stays on the field, he should experience success. Fellow Ohioan and U-M team captain Kevin Koger hopes the best for him, while observing Toussaint is due for a break or two ��� not literally, of course. ���He has the worst luck,��� Koger said. ���He reminds me of Eugene, from ���Hey Arnold.��� If we get him healthy, he���ll help the team out a lot. I���m just looking forward to him making plays.��� Rest assured, Jackson is looking intently for the same, even during conversations with Toussaint���s boyhood hero. ���It���s toughness,��� Jackson asserted. ���I was talking to Mike Hart the other day. You look at our backs, and that���s what he looks at. He wants to see who the tough guys are. Not to say the other guys are not, but Fitz proved that he���s the guy that���s going to be the most physical, and that���s what you need in this offense.��� You also need someone staying on the field, and that might be Toussaint���s Step Two. ��� Michigan���s Five Best Backs From Ohio The Wolverines have culled a lot of football talent out of the State of Ohio over the years. Some of the biggest names are easy to recall, Heisman Trophy winners Charles Woodson and Desmond Howard chief among them. But Michigan has also dipped into the prep ranks of that state for ball carriers ��� like Woodson actually was in his days at Fremont Ross High School. Here���s a look at some who put their efforts into piling up the overland yards for U-M. 1. Rob Lytle, Fremont Ross, 1973-76 ��� Bo Schembechler once called Lytle the greatest all-around back he ever coached. That high praise stemmed not only from Lytle���s production, but also from the fact that his numbers would have been even greater had he not sacrificed himself to play some fullback along the way. As it was, Lytle stands No. 7 on Michigan���s alltime list of ground gainers with 3,317 yards. Lytle rushed for 1,469 yards in 1976, leading the Wolverines to a 10-2 record, a Big Ten championship and a 22-0 whitewashing of the Buckeyes in Ohio Stadium. He scored 26 rushing touchdowns in his career, and his four TDs against Indiana in 1975 remains tied for second on Michigan���s alltime list. 2. Billy Taylor, Barberton, 1969-71 ��� Taylor got in on the ground floor with Schembechler and the crew that pulled off the monumental 24-12 upset of supposedly invincible Ohio State in 1969. That launched the tailback, Rob Lytle ran for 1,469 yards in 1976, leading the hailing from Schembechler���s Wolverines to a Big Ten title, and for his U-M career hometown, into a career that (1973-76) he scored 26 rushing touchdowns. Photo courtesy U-M Sports Information allowed him to pile up 3,072 rushing yards, eighth on Michigan���s all-time list. Taylor scored 30 rushing touchdowns for the Wolverines, providing iconic broadcaster Bob Ufer with some of his most enthusiastic on-air moments. 3. Gordon Bell, Troy, 1973-75 ��� ���Little Gordie��� Bell came out of Ohio to perform in some of Michigan���s most prolific rushing offenses ever. In Bell���s senior year, Michigan rushed for 3,848 yards, topped only by the Lytle-led Wolverines of the following season (4,144). Bell operated in the same backfield as Lytle, spanning the quarterback eras from Dennis Franklin to Rick Leach. Bell rushed for 1,388 yards in 1975, capping off a career featuring an even 2,900 yards, with 28 touchdowns. 4. Lawrence Ricks, Barberton, 1979-82 ��� Another Barberton product, Ricks heaped up the rushing yards even while Michigan was moving toward a slightly more balanced attack. He gained 2,751 yards in his career, No. 11 on Michigan���s all-time list, with 1,388 ��� precisely matching Bell���s senior-season total ��� in 1982. 5. Ricky Powers, Akron Buchtel, 1990-93 ��� Powers churned out 2,554 career rushing yards for the Gary Moeller-coached Michigan squads of the early 1990s. He enjoyed his best season in the Big Ten championship campaign of 1991, carrying the ball for 1,197 yards. Powers now serves as the head coach at Akron Buchtel, which is sending 6-2, 190-pound U-M commitment Jarrod Wilson, a defensive back, to Ann Arbor next fall. ��� John Borton October 2011��� ������ the wolverine��� 35

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of The Wolverine - October 2011