If you asked me Tuesday morning to form a short list of players Michigan must have on the field this fall, Troy Woolfolk's name would be right at the top.
Woolfolk isn't Michigan's best player, nor is he the team's most talented. By most measures, he was an average Big Ten cornerback for the half season he spent there in 2009.
But Woolfolk brought leadership and experience to a secondary that severely lacks both. Plus, he eased some concern (not all) at a position that has gone through a major talent drain in the last 10 months.
That's why the news that Woolfolk reportedly suffered a dislocated ankle and a broken bone in his leg at Tuesday's practice is so painful for Michigan to endure. Head coach Rich Rodriguez hasn't said much about the situation, only that it was a lower body injury and that Woolfolk went to the hospital from practice.
But Woolfolk's high school coach, Jim Creech, told colleague Joe Schad that "it looks like [Woolfolk will] miss the season." Woolfolk was treated and released from University Hospital on Tuesday night, and his father told multiple media outlets that a decision on surgery will be made later.
Woolfolk posted on his Twitter page late Tuesday night: "Even though T-Woolf will be absent, Troy will be on sidelines coaching&cheering for Michigan till all air has vacated my lungs." T-Woolf, for those who don't know, is Woolfolk's alter ego.
Fortunately, Woolfolk has a redshirt season and could return in 2011, but his injury leaves Michigan young and thin at cornerback. Considering how well Michigan has recruited the cornerback spot in recent years, it's amazing to think that the program could get to this point.
Remember these guys?
Donovan Warren: First-team All-Big Ten selection in 2009 declared for the NFL as a junior but wasn't drafted in April.
Boubacar Cissoko: Blue chip recruit started the first four games in 2009, missed two games because of a suspension, returned for a game and then was dismissed for violating team rules. In a truly sad story, Cissoko is now in jail serving time for his role in multiple robberies.
Demar Dorsey: The Big Ten's top-rated recruit signed with Michigan in February but was denied admission in June, a decision that didn't sit well with the coaching staff. Dorsey is still waiting to see whether he gets admitted to Louisville.
Adrian Witty: Signed with Michigan in 2009 but never made it to Ann Arbor because of academic issues. He eventually landed at Cincinnati, where he has been impressive in training camp.
J.T. Turner: Decorated recruit was granted his release from the team last week and intends to transfer.
It's quite a list, and Michigan certainly could use the help this fall.
I wonder if Pacman Jones has any eligibility left. Or Charles Woodson.
Michigan feels good about J.T. Floyd at one corner spot, but the other spot is a mystery and the overall depth is very shaky. The Wolverines have been fighting a numbers game on defense since Rodriguez's arrival, and the situation at cornerback has exacerbated the problem.