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Toussaint untracked, but bright future ahead



Published: Tue, June 10, 2008 @ 12:09 a.m.

By Joe Scalzo

The Liberty High standout committed to Michigan earlier this spring.

On the last day of the Division II regional track meet, Liberty junior Fitzgerald Toussaint wandered around the outside of the Ravenna Stadium track, looking out of place for two reasons.

The first: He was wearing a letterman’s jacket in sunny, 75-degrees weather.

“I just got it,” he said, laughing. “I had to show it off a little bit. I thought it was gonna be cold.

“It could be 100 degrees, but I was gonna wear it.”

The second: He wasn’t on the track.

Toussaint, a crazy-quick running back who recently committed to Michigan, would have been one of the favorites to win a state title in the 100-meter dash.

Instead, he was slowed all season by a bum hamstring. He actually qualified for the regional meet in the 100, but his time (11.40, far off his regional-championship time of 10.74 from last year) and his injury kept him sidelined. This year’s state-championship time in Div. II was 11.03.

“It’s hard, especially watching these 11.1s,” he said, referring to this year’s regional championship time. “I’m looking forward to next season right now. I’ve got some payback for some people.”

The injury kept Toussaint from reaching that extra gear that separates him from just about everybody on the track — and on the football field. After a terrific sophomore season where he rushed for 1,100 yards and 15 touchdowns (then using the last name Edwards), Toussaint gained more than 1,400 yards and 24 TDs in 10 games for the Leopards last fall.

“The thing that makes Fitz a special back is that one extra gear that sets him apart,” said Leopards coach Jeff Whittaker. “That, plus he’s got great hips, good vision and quick feet.

“You put all those elements together and you’ve got a pretty explosive package.”

Toussaint had offers from most schools in the Big Ten, but once Rich Rodriguez was hired in Ann Arbor, Michigan became the front-runner. Rodriguez’s spread option offense puts a premium on speed and is more run-oriented than most spread offenses.

“It’s Michigan,” said Toussaint, who was recruited by assistant head coach Tony Gibson. “I grew up watching Michigan when I was young, I really just never thought about playing at Michigan.

“They showed me a lot of love when I was [up] there and it’s kind of close to my family.”

Toussaint is not someone who loves the attention (translation: the phone calls) that comes with recruiting. He wanted to make the decision early, allowing him to focus on the upcoming season and improving his grades (he has close to a 2.5 grade point average) and the 15 he scored on his ACT (the minimum qualifying mark is 17).

Toussaint will have company in Ann Arbor. Earlier this spring, his teammate, Isaiah Bell, committed to Michigan.

“That wasn’t the reason I chose there, but it’s always nice to have someone by your side that you know,” he said.

Teaming with Bell should make the transition easier, but there’s something else Toussaint should bring from Liberty to help make feel more comfortable up north.

His jacket. Particularly in December.

“Oh, I know,” he said, laughing.

scalzo@vindy.com


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