Fitzgerald Toussaint is no stranger to adversity. During his time in Ann Arbor he has had to overcome a number of obstacles; a broken shoulder blade, a series of stingers, a brief suspension, a reworked offensive line last year… and all of that was BEFORE his season ending leg injury. That most recent setback, however, was his trying to date. Still he managed to approach it with the same steely resolve that he did all the others, and the result has been an impressively rapid return to form.
“It was very tough,” Toussaint said looking back on his road to recovery. “You can question a million times, ‘why? Why did this happen to me?’ But at the end of the day if you’re tough enough and you have the right mindset you can kind of rebound from anything.”
“I knew right after surgery [I had] no loss of confidence. I had to be ready to go even if it was mentally at first and then the physical part would come with it.”
“I knew if I trained hard, which I did, both winter and summer I knew I’d be ready for anything.”
He certainly has proven that readiness to his teammates. Many of them have marveled at his ability to put the seemingly inevitable post-injury tentativeness to the side and just go out and perform. Toussaint acknowledges that feat has been far from easy. As a matter of fact it’s something he still concentrates on, even if he doesn’t show it.
“I’m working hard to get my mind mentally right to be able to go out there and make that cut without thinking about, ‘oh, I had a broken leg a year ago’,” said Toussaint. “I think that’s a big part of it. I think that’s a big part of the game.”
“I just go out there and run full speed and able to get hit and willing to get hit. So (now) I kind of (don’t) think about it. It’s bigger than myself. It’s about the team.”
It’s that type of mindset that has allowed him to embrace the presence of so many young upstarts working to grab some of the carries. Redshirt freshman Drake Johnson has been generating a great deal of buzz since bowl prep last winter, while true freshmen Derrick Green and DeVeon Smith have been generating buzz since they committed. Toussaint, for his part, hasn’t been intimidated by any of it. As a matter of fact he is heartened by their presence because their success is ultimately the team’s success.
“My job is just to be a leader and get those guys acclimated to the system so they can live up to their full potential,” he said matter-of-factly.
“So me being a leader, me being a senior, I feel like I have to get those guys ready.”
Besides, Toussaint knows that if things are rolling as well as the coaching staff wants them to there will be more than enough carries to go around. It’d be reminiscent of the days when multiple backs were able to carry the ball with great success.
“Powerhouse… power-I,” Toussaint said discussing the team’s offensive identity. “Go out there and run the football and games being won in the trenches. I think that’s what Michigan is really about.”
The Wolverines are also about winning championships, which is something they hope to get back to doing regularly.
“It doesn’t matter if we’d won it a year ago, (the quest for a championship) is still going to push us every day to go out there and be the best,” he said. “That’s what we are at Michigan; the leaders and best. So we want to get that trophy every year. We really want to put the emphasis on that.”
“I want to walk out with a Rose Bowl. I want to walk out with a Big Ten championship. I think that’s what we’ve been focusing on and putting an emphasis on.”