- Adam Rittenberg, ESPN Staff Writer
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Big Ten teams have faced some major personnel challenges this season.
No team in America has been hit harder at key spots than Purdue, while other Big Ten squads like Wisconsin and Penn State also have lost key players.
But I can't remember a single position being ravaged more by both injuries and player departures than Michigan's cornerback spot.
The latest bit of bad news arrived Wednesday, as Wolverines coach Rich Rodriguez confirmed that cornerback J.T. Floyd will miss the rest of the season after suffering a "freak" ankle injury in practice Tuesday. Floyd's ankle isn't broken, but he suffered ligament damage and needs surgery that will keep him sidelined for a while.
The redshirt sophomore has started all eight games for Michigan and ranks third on the team in tackles with 66. Floyd also has an interception, a forced fumble and four pass breakups.
Michigan's struggles in the secondary are no secret, and this certainly doesn't make things easier.
Rodriguez said true freshman Courtney Avery will start Saturday against Illinois opposite senior James Rogers, the Wolverines' only non-freshman cornerback still available.
"We're pretty young in the secondary," Rodriguez told reporters on a conference call. "We're getting younger."
Remember these names?
Troy Woolfolk: Multiyear starter in the secondary suffered season-ending ankle/foot injury in camp.
Justin Turner: Decorated recruit was granted his release from the team in August.
Vlad Emilien: Young defensive back left the team in September.
Demar Dorsey: The Big Ten's top-rated recruit signed with Michigan in February but was denied admission in June.
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. Cissoko is now in jail serving time for his role in multiple robberies.
Donovan Warren: First-team All-Big Ten selection in 2009 declared for the NFL as a junior but wasn't drafted in April.
Adrian Witty: Signed with Michigan in 2009 but never made it to Ann Arbor because of academic issues.
Michigan's defense has more issues than just one position, but the Wolverines certainly would be better with some of these guys on the field right now.
Rodriguez also said Wednesday that receiver Martavious Odoms (foot) and safety Mike Williams (concussions) likely won't return this season. Running back Fitzgerald Toussaint (shoulder) will miss Saturday's game.
Not good for a team that desperately needs a win.