Big Ten: Tyrone Wheatley
First half in the books, 21-0-3. Light the lamp.
- Iowa will review the hiring procedures for coach Kirk Ferentz's future son-in-law, The (Cedar Rapids) Gazette reports.
- Michigan State in the Big Ten's "East" division? Athletic director Mark Hollis is interested. New Spartans offensive playcaller Dave Warner admits he was part of the problem last year. Hollis doesn't see Big Ten expansion on the horizon.
- Michigan needs a No. 3 receiver to emerge this spring. Former Wolverines star Tyrone Wheatley is thrilled his son might continue his legacy at Michigan.
- Marc Morehouse (smart guy, Blackhawks fan) agrees with me that the Holiday Bowl makes sense for the Big Ten.
- Wisconsin's Montee Ball delivers at the school's pro day with a good 40 time. Former Badgers assistant Jay Boulware says family reasons spurred his quick exit from Madison. Don't overlook Wisconsin in 2013.
- Stewart Mandel presents his Big Ten football primer.
- A slimmed-down Imani Cross gives Nebraska a new look at running back. Huskers safety Charles Jackson tackles the mental challenges of his position. Nebraska chancellor Harvey Perlman will chair the BCS presidential oversight committee.
- The chase is on for Ohio State this spring.
- Northwestern has a big recruiting weekend on tap.
- Penn State "run-on" Adam Geiger picked football over wrestling, but he's not quite ready to get off the mat.
- A quick look at Minnesota WR Derrick Engel. Former Minnesota athletic director Joel Maturi has been appointed to the NCAA's infractions committee.
- New Indiana assistant William Inge wants to see a "consistent, aggressive and violent" defense this season. Check out some highlights from Indiana's first few spring workouts.
- Purdue CB Josh Johnson reflects on his college career. Darrell Hazell officially completes his Boilers coaching staff -- for the second time.
April, 19, 2012
By Brian Bennett | ESPN.com
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Fitz Toussaint ran for 1,041 yards last season, becoming the first Michigan running back since Mike Hart in 2007 to surpass the 1,000-yard barrier.
It was an especially impressive feat since Toussaint didn't really take over as the lead, undisputed rusher for the Wolverines until the eighth game of the year. So it's no wonder that people are expecting even bigger things this season. Including Toussaint's head coach.
Brady Hoke told ESPN.com that he pulled Toussaint aside during the Allstate Sugar Bowl and pointed out that Virginia Tech had a 1,600-yard tailback in David Wilson.
"We'd sure like to have one of those," he said.
Say no more. A new Toussaint touchstone has been established for 2012.
"The goal is to try to go beyond that," Toussaint said. "I want 1,600 yards to be the minimum."
Only one Big Ten player, Wisconsin's Montee Ball, put up more than 1,400 yards rushing last season. That Toussaint's goal doesn't sound all that outlandish is a testament to how far he's come in a short time.
Rick Osentoski/US PresswireFitz Toussaint of Michigan has set a goal of at least 1,600 rushing yards this season.
Wolverines coaches liked his talent but weren't sure how tough he was early last year. Toussaint sat out the Notre Dame game in Week 2 with a sprained AC joint in his shoulder. He had also missed some games as a freshman and was gaining a reputation for being injury-prone.
After the Notre Dame game, running backs coach Fred Jackson pulled Toussaint into his office and talked about past great Michigan backs like Hart, Tyrone Wheatley and Chris Perry. Those guys, he said, played through nagging ankle pains, hamstring injuries and other aches.
"He was saying you've got to be tough to play this game at a different level," Toussaint said. "That talk really motivated me."
Toussaint played pretty well with limited carries the next four games but had just 7 yards on two attempts in the loss at Michigan State. The Wolverines then went into a bye week and decided to change their philosophy in the running attack, which until then had involved using Denard Robinson and spreading the carries out among the tailbacks.
"We just decided we were going to let him carry the ball," offensive coordinator Al Borges said. "We weren't going to take him out."
He responded with a 170-yard, two-touchdown game against Purdue the next game. Toussaint averaged 135 rushing yards over the final five regular-season games, including a 192-yard effort at Illinois. Nobody was happier about this development than Robinson, who finally had a star running back to take some heat off him.
"It was a relief," Robinson said of Toussaint's emergence. "Running the ball that much, it's a hassle. I knew he was a big-time back, and once he got going he would do well."
Michigan limited Toussaint's reps this spring, knowing what they had in the junior and wanting to get a look at youngsters like Thomas Rawls and Justice Hayes. When the season starts, though, they will likely give Toussaint all the work he can handle. And if he could replicate his 135-yard average from last year's stretch drive, that equates to just over 1,600 yards for a full 12-game season.
Those kinds of numbers could potentially get Toussaint into the Heisman Trophy discussion along with Robinson. Might we have a Russell Wilson-Montee Ball situation developing?
"That hasn't really crossed my mind," Toussaint said. "It's going to take a lot for me to get there. I'm still lacking a couple of things."
Becoming better in pass protection is something he's striving toward this offseason. That goal is a lot less visible than 1,600 yards, but it may be just as important to Michigan's success.
The dog without the bag, it's incomplete. It's a marriage.
- An in-depth look at why geography didn't determine Big Ten division alignment, Scott Dochterman writes in The (Cedar Rapids) Gazette.
- Michigan State picks up a transfer defensive lineman from Vanderbilt, Denny Schwarze writes in the Lansing State Journal.
- Illinois quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase is disappointed he won't face Terrelle Pryor on Oct. 15, Bob Asmussen writes in The (Champaign) News-Gazette.
- Wisconsin packs a 1-2 punch with running backs James White and Montee Ball, Rivals.com's Steve Megargee writes.
- Fantasy football lovers should check out these previews of the Leaders division and Legends division.
- Penn State could pick up a quarterback for its 2012 class, Jeff Rice writes in the Centre Daily Times. The Lions reportedly pulled a scholarship offer from one-time commit Jamil Pollard.
- Michigan coach Brady Hoke hits the recruiting trail hard in his home state of Ohio, FoxSportsOhio.com's Marcus Hartman writes. Longtime Michigan assistant Fred Jackson competes with former star Tyrone Wheatley for recruits, Mark Snyder writes in the Detroit Free Press.
- A look at the Iowa-Nebraska matchup from the Lincoln Journal Star.
- Ohio high school coaches debate whether to honor former Buckeyes boss Jim Tressel, Jim Halley writes in USA Today.
- The Badger Herald's Mike Fiammetta previews the Big Ten in 2011.
- Minnesota picks up a commit from linebacker recruit Jack Lynn.
- Purdue checks in at No. 45 on The Sporting News' preseason countdown.
February, 10, 2010
These links are a bit frosty today.
- Penn State head coach Joe Paterno weighs in on a variety of topics in this Sporting News interview.
- Former Ohio State running back Maurice Clarett is seeking an early release from prison. Seantrel Henderson's father wants Buckeye fans to welcome his son with open arms even though Ohio State wasn't the younger Henderson's first choice, Tim May writes in The Columbus Dispatch.
- Iowa athletics significantly reduced expenses in 2009, including costs for football recruiting, Scott Dochterman writes in The (Cedar Rapids) Gazette.
- Purdue coaches reflect on the college career of reigning Super Bowl MVP Drew Brees, Mike Carmin writes in The (Lafayette) Journal and Courier.
- In keeping with this theme, Indiana coaches remember Tracy Porter in Bloomington, Chris Porter writes in The (Bloomington) Herald Times.
- Michigan quarterback recruit Devin Gardner simply wants a chance to compete, Angelique Chengelis writes in The Detroit News. Former Wolverines star Tyrone Wheatley lands a job as Syracuse's running backs coach, colleague Brian Bennett writes.