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Published: Wednesday, 8/29/2012 - Updated: 2 years ago

Toussaint pleads guilty

Junior's status for Alabama still unknown

BY RACHEL LENZI
BLADE SPORTS WRITER
Michigan's Fitzgerald Toussaint pled guilty to a misdemeanor of operating a vehicle while visibly impaired on Tuesday, but his status for Saturday remains a mystery. Michigan's Fitzgerald Toussaint pled guilty to a misdemeanor of operating a vehicle while visibly impaired on Tuesday, but his status for Saturday remains a mystery.
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ANN ARBOR -- Michigan tailback Fitzgerald Toussaint pled guilty to a misdemeanor charge of operating a vehicle while visibly impaired, part of a plea deal stemming from his July arrest.

Originally charged with operating a vehicle while intoxicated, Toussaint entered a plea to the lesser charge on Tuesday in Washtenaw County District 14-A Court in Saline, Mich.

AnnArbor.com reported that Toussaint registered the plea and that he will be sentenced Oct. 23, four days before Michigan faces Nebraska in Lincoln, Neb.

Toussaint's penalties for a first offense of operating a vehicle while visibly impaired include a fine of $300, imprisonment of up to 90 days and up to 360 hours of community service.

Toussaint, a redshirt junior from Youngstown, was suspended indefinitely from the Michigan football program after his arrest in July.

A Michigan spokesperson said Tuesday night that Toussaint's status has not changed, and during the Big Ten Conference coaches teleconference earlier in the afternoon, Michigan coach Brady Hoke said no decision has been made as far as Toussaint's availability for Saturday's season opener against Alabama in Arlington, Texas.

"That decision will come before game time, obviously," Hoke said. "Right now he's been practicing, getting reps, doing all the things guys do, so we'll just see."

Hoke said earlier this week that Toussaint's legal status would not affect his availability for Saturday. Hoke's next media availability is today in Ann Arbor.

The Saline Police Department, working on a drunk-driving detail with the Ann Arbor Police Department, stopped Toussaint on July 21 after he ran a red light at the intersection of South Forest Avenue and Washtenaw Avenue in Ann Arbor.

A Breathlyzer test administered at the Saline Police Department showed Toussaint had a blood-alcohol content of 0.12, above the Michigan legal limit of 0.08, and Toussaint was released on a personal recognizance bond. He was suspended July 23.

Toussaint began practicing with the Wolverines on Aug. 13. He is listed as the Wolverines' No. 1 running back on its depth chart for Saturday's game, ahead of Thomas Rawls, Vincent Smith, and Justice Hayes. Toussaint ran for 1,041 yards and nine touchdowns and caught six passes for 28 yards and a touchdown in 12 games in 2011.

RUMORS REGARDING RAWLS? Michigan offensive coordinator Al Borges addressed rumors that Rawls was injured, and was asked if the sophomore running back was held out of a scrimmage over the weekend.

Borges, however, did not elaborate on his status other than to say, "Thomas Rawls is fine.

"That's injury information, and that's not my area. But Thomas Rawls is fine. That's all that matters."

NOT JUST FOR DECORATION: Several flyers are tagged to the glass doors at the entrance of Schembechler Hall, each one with a message: "Beat 'Bama."

Printed on one of the flyers? A color photo of Alabama coach Nick Saban holding up the BCS championship trophy.

"It keeps our mind on the prize," linebacker Kenny Demens said. "We understand what's at stake here. With him and everybody else preaching 'Beat 'Bama,' that's key for us. It's keeping us focused."

FINAL PREPARATIONS: Defensive coordinator Greg Mattison said he's seen improvement in Michigan's linebackers and their pass coverage since the spring.

"I know, watching in practice, I feel like they're much more aware of the quarterback, they're getting deeper," Mattison said. "I think our backers are improving a lot now. We'll see how much. That's what a first game is all about. You'll come out of that game and you'll see exactly where you are. And you'll go from there."

Does he believe the Wolverines defense is ready to face Alabama?

"You know me," Mattison said. "We're never ready. In my mind, you know that. We will be coaching right up until that kickoff and we'll be coaching right through that ballgame."

Contact Rachel Lenzi at: rlenzi@theblade.com, 419-724-6510 or on Twitter @RLenziBlade.



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