2009 Recruiting: Fitzgerald Toussaint Comment Count

Brian June 12th, 2009 at 12:03 PM

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
fitzgeraldtoussaint_thumb4 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
YMRMFSPA Steve Slaton
Previously On
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.



June 12th, 2009 at 12:25 PM ^

Watching the video, I couldn't help but notice how he holds that ball out for anyone to take it when running. Hopefully M can coach that out of him, or else it will be stripped easily.

marco dane

June 12th, 2009 at 12:29 PM ^

a running back who stands 5'10 among the shawties. Will FT redshirt? If so (an even if he doesn't) like Brian says...2010 will be all out war for the starting position. I can't wait to see who comes out on top. With Michigan looking for a *homerun* type running back...should be interesting see who else pulls the trigger to add to the mix.

Those seven weeks when Toussiant was averaging over 250 yds per game must have been something special to have witness.

Sound like we have ourselves a winner with this kid...GO BLUE!


June 12th, 2009 at 12:45 PM ^

When Carcajous Attack had a great article that I think Brian linked to on m.go.licious (and I will at the end of this post) that talked about the Rodriguez offense firing on all cylinders. One of the key ingredients was "Tailback tandems from Hell". The article's great, give it a read if you haven't. It's got me really psyched for our rush attack in the RR era, especially if we keep pulling in exciting RB recruits.



June 12th, 2009 at 12:47 PM ^

That ESPN scouting report is totally inaccurate, in my experience. Toussaint excelled primarily as an inside runner in the game we scouted, and was mostly a one-cut and go type of guy. I'm not going to bother digging up the post to link it, but yeah.

Also, apparently Sam Webb said on the radio this morning that Toussaint is qualified for sure.


June 12th, 2009 at 12:49 PM ^

if for no other reason than we're sure to have RBs get dinged. It's not like Minor and Brown have been injury-free during their careers.


June 12th, 2009 at 1:11 PM ^

I don't think I've been as excited about a mixtape (sans the music) as I was about FT's since McGuffie. Hopefully this turns out a little better. It seriously looks like the video was edited to speed up FT but keep the defenses at regular speed. The track times give me some comfort that this wasn't just a case of playing against really bad competition, but damn, he made those defensive players look SLOW!

I hope I'm wrong, but I have a strong feeling that RR is going to see him catch a punt in practice, make a move, take it to the house, and then decide to blow a red shirt.


June 12th, 2009 at 1:52 PM ^

Isn't it though? Besides the difficulty of trying to remember what the hell the site was called (i ended up having to look up Wolverine on wiki and found the native american name), the article is a really good read that manages to get some serious septh. Much better than reading some stale "Rodriguez looks for next Pat White" article on the WWL. I look forward to reading more from them.


June 12th, 2009 at 2:52 PM ^

excited about Touissant since I watched that highlight film last year. Really hope its true that he qualified. And if he is the second or third best rb, which he might be, then let him play this year. Go Blue!


June 12th, 2009 at 3:55 PM ^

I mean, that's Bo-Jackson-in-Super-Tecmo-Bowl sick. My lord.

If you want to no nuts with the YMRMFSPA, seeing him in that jersey, in #5, tell me that if you squint hard enough he doesn't look like LaDanian Tomlinson at TCU.

(Yes, I realize that the liklihood of Tomlinson is 0.001%, and the liklihood of Slaton is small, and the set of liklihoods includes all sorts of Kelly Baraka's and Kelvin Grady's and Jerome Jackson's and whatnot. I'm just dreamin' a little, that's all.)


June 12th, 2009 at 6:13 PM ^

I'm from the Youngtown area, and I must point out that although northeast Ohio is not exactly the recruiting hotbed that south Florida or Texas is, they do however produce good players. Former Youngtowner (yes that is correct) Walter Reyes (cousin of Maurice Clarett), has more rushing touchdowns than anyone else in Syracuse history. Brad Smith lit up Big 12 record books as a Missou QB and also as a high school product out of the "Yo". Toussaint will be a fine addition to the team and his lack of competition in high school, like the other fine gents that I mentioned, will not effect his ability to absolutley snap at the Big House


June 12th, 2009 at 11:46 PM ^

I've watched a lot of these videos and this particular recruit and this particular video stood out from the rest. The term vision, as far as running backs and kick returners go, is kind of a misnomer. Vision implies seeing the field. But running backs must feel the field as well. There's an internal mechanism beyond the eyes that moves great runners around the big chessboard. This kid has that. You can see it when you watch him. And no, I do not run a recruiting service, or an operator of Fitzgeralds website. Nor am I a budding pro football agent. But seriously Why is it Steve Breaston found daylight on kick/punt returns? Why was it Hart made guys miss? And so on right. If he can withstand the pounding of 3 years of Big Ten Football then he will contribute.

k bizzle

June 13th, 2009 at 11:45 AM ^

Brian makes the case that he doesn't want Fitz to burn a redshirt, I have to disagree with that. He needs to be out there if he can prove he belongs, like I think he will. RR needs to win this year and having him out there ready to play really increases the chances of UM winning, IMO.

Also not burning the red shirt should help us in the long run with recruiting. I can see RR telling recruits that he was true to his word and let Fitz play because he worked hard and earned it. This will build the trust between the recruit and also make coming to UM that more inviting because as highly rated players go, they all believe they can prove themselves and play as a freshmen no matter who is there. At least the really good ones do.

This is just my two cents on it, just take the track record of the backs Michigan has had the past few years and there always seems to be a few injuries that put them on the sidelines for a few games. With McGuffie gone Fitz will have to play this season because the injuries will happen.

You never know it could be a Smith and Fitz running the back field by the end of the year. I really hope not though and would be very suprised as I think Minor is going to blow up, IF he can stay healthy.


June 13th, 2009 at 8:41 PM ^

I would agree with not burning the redshirt, but if he is really, really good in college, he won't stay for that fifth year, anyway.

I hope they let his performance determine whether or not he plays.


June 14th, 2009 at 12:01 PM ^

If Fitz is tearing it up in practice at the same time that RBs ahead of him get injured (not an impossibility with Brown, Minor, and Shaw), have trouble holding onto the ball (Odoms and Brown), or don't produce (Grady), then I think there's no way that RR is going to hold him out, especially if our offense or kick return game is struggling in general and we're losing games.