Hoke's First-Pads Practice Report

Michigan coach Brady Hoke talks in-depth about the Gardner's new maturity as a player. He gives an update on injured running back Fitzgerald Toussaint. Plus Thomas Gordon playing both safety positions, and the early enrollee freshman defensive backs.

As the Wolverines' enter their 134th season of Michigan football, the Maize and Blue are displaying early "enthusiasm" as they enter their third spring practice of the season.

"It's good to have the first day in pads," Michigan coach Brady Hoke said. "I thought we had a lot of enthusiasm. I liked the physicalness they brought to the first three days - because they got after each other pretty good during the no-pads practices. We have a lot of competition, a lot of young guys that have to go out and compete and some older guys who have played, obviously, but have to compete also. Everyone understands that. It's been good. I think our leadership is good. I like the way they have handled themselves and the team. That stems from the winter into this phase."

Devin Gardner's Transformation

Redshirt junior quarterback Devin Gardner has five starts under his belt, with a 3-2 record as the Wolverines' signal-caller last season. Known for his comedic personality, Gardner is quickly figuring out what it means to be the Michigan starting quarterback says Hoke.

"Devin, I'm proud he is figuring out what it means to be a Michigan quarterback is something special," Hoke said of Gardner's new attitude this spring. "I think his work ethic, his intelligence and all those things. He is a football junkie. He's done a nice job of wrapping his arms around his responsibility.

"I think it's all age. I think we all mature. Some us do. Some us hadn't. I think it's all part of what being in a program long enough and feeling the accountability and responsibility."

Toussaint update and other RB's

Redshirt junior running back Fitzgerald Toussaint is in the middle of rehabbing a broken leg suffered in the Northwestern win last season. However, the former 1,000-yard rusher (2011 season) has been able to participate in drills this spring.

"He's running around," Hoke said. "He's doing individual stuff. (Running backs coach) Fred (Jackson), as different cutting drills and those kind of things. He's doing a lot of that stuff. We're just not going to be putting him out there in live action."

Gordon doubling up

With the graduation of safety Jordan Kovacs, firth-year senior Thomas Gordon will be playing both free-safety and strong safety at times this spring.

"Well, he's played both to be honest with you," Hoke said. "It depends on what we wanted to do with Jordan (in the past). Do we want (Kovacs) as the down safety most of the time. Do we want him over the top. And what we're doing right now, (Gordon) really in a dual role, because we're trying to keep some young guys (at safety). You got (sophomore Jarod) Wilson, (redshirt freshman Allen) Gant, (redshirt freshman Jeremy) Clark, (senior Josh) Furman and (senior) Marvin (Robinson). Marvin has been part of it. You got some there and you got to decide who is going to be the guy."

So Will Gordon play strong safety this season?

"I think he is pretty comfortable at either one," Hoke said. "I don't think he has a big problem with being the down safety or the safety in the middle of the field."

Freshman DB's

Michigan early enrollees, freshman defensive back Dymonte Thomas and freshman cornerback Ross Douglass are making strides early in their third practice.

"Well I think as he keeps learning what he is doing, I think he will be playing a little faste," Hoke said on the five-star safety recruit. "I think Dymonte, I think Ross Douglass, back in the back end, both are competing hard and learning and doing those things."

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