The Michigan Wolverines football team has been practicing without their starting running back, Fitzgerald Toussaint and potential starting defensive end, Frank Clark since last week due to legal issues for both players. Head coach Brady Hoke announced on Sunday afternoon that the two players will be allowed to practice with the team starting Monday (h/t Rivals).
Toussaint, a redshirt junior, was indefinitely suspended by Hoke on July 23rd after being arrested and charged with operating a vehicle while impaired.
Meanwhile, Clark is a true sophomore who was expected to compete against Brennan Beyer for the starting job at defensive end until Hoke announced his indefinite suspension on the same day as Toussaint's.
Clark is facing second-degree home invasion charges for allegedly stealing a MacBook Air, valued at $1,800, from Stockwell Hall and recently waived his preliminary hearing. The 6'2", 262-pounder's next hearing is scheduled for September 11th.
Sophomore running back Thomas Rawls has been taking the reps with Michigan's first team offense thus far and Beyer has done the same with the first team defense in Toussaint's and Clark's absences.
Although the two have been cleared to practice by Hoke, they are still facing the possibility of missing Michigan's season opener against Alabama on September 1st along with further in-house discipline.
"As teammates we love them, but there are consequences for their behavior," Hoke said according to Chris Balas of TheWolverine.com.
"They are paying the price and will continue to pay the price for a little bit. I think both of them realize they have an outstanding opportunity to play at the University of Michigan, to get a Michigan degree. They understand there is a standard of performance from a community, academic and football side they've got to do a great job and understand.
"As coaches you're a teacher, get an opportunity to teach life lessons. Believe me, they've paid a heavy price and will continue to pay a price for actions unbecoming of a Michigan football player."
The news of both players returning to practice is certain to excite Michigan fans, however those cheers and happy faces should be tempered a bit. Both Toussaint and Clark are facing serious charges. Hoke is letting the legal system handle things and will re-evalute things once the judicial process has concluded in both cases.
Expect Toussaint and Clark to miss multiple games to start the 2012 campaign. Until Hoke makes an official announcement no one will know for sure how long the two will be suspended.
Zach Dirlam is the former lead editor of the college basketball section as well as Big Ten columnist for the FOX Sports/MSN/YardBarker affiliate website Sports at Work. Check out his blog, Dirlam's Dirty Dugout Sports Blog, which features this story, along with other articles and video reports on major sports.
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