The Wolverine

2013 Football Preview

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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Toussaint Joins Cadre Of Big Ten Starters Returning From Injury Michigan is counting on fifth-year senior Fitzgerald Toussaint to play a major role for the offense this fall even though he missed all of winter conditioning and spring practice rehabbing a season-ending leg injury suffered in November. Likewise, the Wolverines' Big Ten brethren are expecting the return to full health of a number of potential impact performers that suffered severe injuries in 2012. Joel Stave, QB, Wisconsin: The redshirt sophomore started six games for the Badgers in 2012, going 4-2 in those contests while completing 58.8 percent of his pass attempts on the season for 1,104 yards with six touchdowns. He broke his collarbone in week nine against Michigan State and missed UW's next four games. He threw a single pass in the Rose Bowl in limited action, but is expected to start under center for the defending Big Ten champions. Jonathan Brown, LB, Illinois: An All-Big Ten second-team selection in 2011 after recording 19.5 tackles for loss, Brown started nine games at linebacker for the Illini last season and tallied 59 stops before a season-ending shoulder injury sidelined him against Ohio State. Brown did not appear in UI's final three games, but has come back stronger and will anchor the Illinois defense in 2013. Tre Roberson, QB, Indiana: One of 12 true freshman quarterbacks to start for their schools in 2011, Roberson rushed for 426 yards and two scores in addition to throwing for 937 yards in five starts and nine appearances. He began the 2012 season as IU's starting signal-caller, but broke his leg in week two and received a medical redshirt. After a strong spring, he appears to have reclaimed his starting job from fill-in Cameron Coffman, but he must continue to win it this fall. "I had this big notebook, and I told him every day that he was to write something in that book about what he was doing to get better — your treatment, your workouts, whatever — and he did that from December until the season started and we played Michigan." Toussaint started with the book, but hasn't maintained it for the duration of his rehabilitation. He has not slacked one day in the process, though. "I'm always doing something," Toussaint said. "I do all the conditioning with my teammates, and all the lifting, and then Coach [Aaron] Wellman has a lot of other stuff for me to do, like leg press, lateral movements, explosion workouts, working in the sand, running on the treadmill in the "Every time I see him, he looks better than the last time. … From everything we're told by our training staff, he's on pace for the start of training camp and should be ready to compete for the No. 1 job." Offensive coordinator Al Borges on Toussaint Michigan State center Travis Jackson (above, playing versus Michigan in 2011) earned Freshman All-America honors two seasons ago, but missed most of 2012 with a knee injury. Photo by Lon Horwedel Travis Jackson, C, Michigan State: Named to the Freshman All-America first team after starting 10 games at center in 2011, Jackson was supposed to anchor the Spartans' offensive line in 2012. Instead, five games in, he suffered a knee injury and broken leg against Ohio State and missed the rest of the year. The 6-3, 280-pound junior is healthy and set to center an MSU line heavy on experience. Andrew Donnal, OG, and Brandon Scherff, OT, Iowa: The Hawkeyes were 4-2 and on a high following a double-overtime win over Michigan State when they hosted Penn State in late October. On that day, Iowa lost two starting offensive linemen — Donnal to a knee injury and Scherff to a broken fibula and dislocated ankle. The redshirt juniors took back their starting positions at right guard and left tackle this spring and will anchor a veteran Iowa line. — Michael Spath 86  ■  The Wolverine 2013 Football Preview pool. And if I'm not with them, I'm doing stuff on my own because I know how hard I need to push it." When he's not working out, obligated to the mandatory rest periods, he's in the running backs meeting room watching film, or talking to teammates, especially his fellow ball carriers, about what they can be doing to improve. Toussaint wants to be the starter against Central Michigan Aug. 31, but he wants a fair fight. "I'm putting in all this extra work because I have to be 100 percent, but even if I wasn't rehabbing I'd be putting that effort in because I want to be the best I can be, and I tell those guys that," he said. "If they want to help this team win, they have to work twice as hard as they're working now. "I know that makes that job tougher to win, but I'm a mentor, and I want to motivate those guys because that's my role as a leader of this team." Returning To Peak Form Toussaint hasn't put a number goal on the board, and he won't. He understands there are circumstances outside of his control, and besides, 1,600 yards may not be what it takes to win a Big Ten title. "If that's what it will take us to get there, then so be it, but if it's 400 yards then so

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