2009 Recruiting: Fitzgerald Toussaint
Previously: S Vlad Emilien, S Thomas Gordon, CB Justin Turner, CB Adrian Witty, LB Isaiah Bell, LB Mike Jones, LB Brandin Hawthorne, DT Will Campbell, DE Anthony LaLota, DE Craig Roh, OL Michael Schofield, OL Taylor Lewan, OL Quinton Washington, WR Cameron Gordon, WR Je'Ron Stokes, WR Jeremy Gallon, RB Teric Jones, and RB Vincent Smith.
|Youngstown, Ohio - 5'10" 185
|Scout||3*, #49 RB|
|Rivals||4*, #8 all purpose back, #239 overall|
|ESPN||79, #28 RB|
|Others||#95 to Lemming|
|Other Suitors||Pitt, Illinois, WVU|
|Hello: Fitzgerald Toussaint|
|Notes||Youngstown Liberty (Isaiah Bell, Antonio Kinard)|
This might be hard to get your head around after profiles of running backs who run 5'8" and 5'6" in sensible heels, but people think comparative giant Fitzgerald Toussaint—he's 5'10"! Gojira! Run!—is a small, zippy, tiny back. So, yeah, more of that stuff.
Toussaint has advantages over the other two kids in this class other than his spectacular name: he made Rivals top 250 and Lemming's top 100 and ended up a low-ish four star to ESPN. Only Scout remained skeptical. If you run into Scouty.com McScouterson, ask him what's up, because Toussaint's senior year was re-damn-diculous. He ran and ran and ran. By week eight his stats were astounding:
Fitzgerald Toussaint, Youngstown Liberty: Senior RB and Michigan recruit went over 250 yards for the seventh week in a row in a 33-28 win over Hubbard. After generating 16 yards on four carries in the first half, Toussaint erupted for 235 yards in the second half and scored two TDs. He has 1,950 yards in eight games.
Though tougher teams in the last portion of the season and the playoffs reduced Toussaint's torrid pace—he finished with 2,239 yards—he still averaged nearly ten yards a carry and scored a total of 28 touchdowns. Liberty's season ended against spectacularly-named Chagrin Falls, during which game Toussaint was truly shut down for the first time all year with just 21 yards.
The yards he did acquire were often spectacular. Check it:
If you watched that you know he is fast, but confirmation for skeptics versed in the ways of one college-bound guy against future engineers starts… now! JJHuddle's Duane Long:
Sometimes I watch a player and I see another level of speed. That is what I saw the first time I took a look at Toussaint. … He ran a 10.7-second 100-meter time as a freshman. Last year he ran a 10.59 100-meter and clocked a 21.79 200-meter time. That is an entirely different level of speed.
That was going into the year; during it Toussaint won the indoor season's 60 meter dash:
Toussaint, an All-Ohio running back who is headed to the University of Michigan, won the 60-meter dash with a time of 6.96, edging Columbiana junior Nick Melone (7.04), who placed second.
Toussaint's senior year outside started off with a hamstring injury but he managed to win some 100m dashes despite not being 100%. Unfortunately, he didn't get a chance to run at states because of a false start. Without that we might have had a titanic matchup between future Wolverines: junior and WR commit DJ Williamson was the state champion.
ESPN says he "might be a national sleeper at the position," but refrained from rating him higher than they did because of issues with his level of competition. (Liberty plays in one of the smaller Ohio divisions and in an area of the state that's not exactly loaded at that level.) Tantalizing specifics:
Runs patiently with good vision through the hole. Excels as a zone runner with his ability to stretch it east-west with great lateral quickness and avoid the initial penetration. Can sharply cut it back against the grain or turn the corner and separate from defenders with a great second gear, acceleration and top-end speed. Very shifty through traffic. Runs low to the ground, with excellent body control allowing him to slide through small run creases without losing much in transition. Very dangerous when he gets in space with his elusiveness.
Their main complaint is a tendency to dance around, which directly contradicts what you see above so like WTF. I don't know. As per usual, the scouting report highly recommends Toussaint land in a spread offense that can deploy his open-field elusiveness to devastating effect: check.
Other scouting reports and/or tantalizing coach quotes are surprisingly sparse. Rodriguez on Toussaint:
"We thought he was one of if not the best back in the state of Ohio last year. … he’s got all the things we want in a running back."
And this opposing coach offered an opinion after Toussaint shredded his team at the beginning of his junior year:
Friday night, the Struthers head coach had a similar feeling after watching Liberty junior Fitzgerald Toussaint juke, jive, spin and accelerate past his team — sometimes breaking a few tackles along the way — on his way to 239 yards and four touchdowns.
"He's a special back," said Saunders after his team's 43-22 road loss to the Leopards. "I don't know that he's quite at that [Wells'] level, but he's the best I've seen in awhile."
It wasn't all flowers and 90-yard touchdowns for Toussaint, though. His dad—also named Fitzgerald Toussaint—ended up in jail after stabbing his ex-wife's boyfriend… at a football scrimmage. Nasty business.
WARNING! Like Jeremy Gallon, rumors have been swirling about Toussaint's grades, and not "wow, did you hear Fitzgerald Toussaint has a 3.9?" The latest completely unsupported speculation is like the tiny amount of data we have on Gallon: it's looking like he will probably make it, but don't bet the farm.
Etc.: Various pictures.
Why Steve Slaton? Toussaint is a fast 5'10" slasher with the speed to take it the distance who will be deployed in the spread 'n' shred. Slaton, a universal three-star who had his Maryland offer yanked, was actually lower rated than Toussaint.
Guru Reliability: Moderate. High profile kid at a relatively easy to project position, but wide spread and no camps/combines.
General Excitement Level: High. While I think Vincent Smith can be a good back in the Michigan offense, Toussaint has the bigger recruiting rep, better track numbers, and heart-stopping highlights; my bet is that he's the most successful tailback out of this class. I love the combination of moves, zone suitability, and flat-out speed cited by ESPN and demonstrated at track meets and football games.
Projection: I hope they don't go Carr here and burn a redshirt for no purpose; Toussaint will be behind the two seniors, Mike Shaw, and possibly Vincent Smith and Mike Cox this fall if for no other reason than inexperience and whatever incremental improvement Michigan might get from running Toussaint out there for a couple dozen carries, or—ugh—special teams duty seems outweighed by the potential of a fifth year.
Past that, he'll be part of an all-out war for the starting job in 2010.