Michigan suspends Fitzgerald Toussaint, Frank Clark for Tide game

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ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Michigan coach Brady Hoke has suspended starting running back Fitzgerald Toussaint and reserve defensive end Frank Clark for Saturday night’s opener against No. 2 Alabama.

Hoke made the announcement Friday, saying both players wouldn’t make the trip to Texas.

Toussaint pleaded guilty Tuesday to drunken driving. Clark is accused of taking a laptop from a dorm room.

“The decision was not easy, but I feel it is in the best interest of this program and for these kids, and those always will be my priorities,” Hoke said in a statement. “We have choices every day, and you have to be accountable to this program, your teammates, your family and the University of Michigan.”

The eighth-ranked Wolverines will likely use running backs Thomas Rawls, Vincent Smith, Justice Hayes perhaps along with newcomers Dennis Norfleet and Drake Johnson against the defending national champion Crimson Tide.

“It’s not always just about football, or a football decision,” Hoke said. “It’s about teaching life lessons, and if this helps these kids or someone else make a right decision later, then we’ve won. That is ultimately what we are here for, to help them grow and mature to become better sons, fathers, husbands and members of society.

“They are good young men who made poor choices, and we will continue to support them as members of our team and family.”

Toussaint pleaded guilty to operating a vehicle while visibly impaired after facing the more serious charge of operating while intoxicated. He faces up to 93 days in jail when he is sentenced Oct. 23, just after Michigan hosts Michigan State and prior to its game at Nebraska.

He ran for 1,000-plus yards and nine touchdowns last season as a sophomore. He was suspended after his arrest last month. Hoke reinstated him to participate in the second week of preseason practice.

Clark’s next court date is Sept. 11, three days after the home opener against Air Force. He closed his freshman season with a season-high five tackles and an interception in the Sugar Bowl win over Virginia Tech, putting him in a position to earn playing time on a depleted defensive line this year.

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