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Tuesday, January 17, 2012
Hoke makes right call on booting Stonum

By Brian Bennett

Michigan coach Brady Hoke said earlier this month he was still gathering information on wayward receiver Darryl Stonum's latest run-in with the law and would make a decision on Stonum's status.

Today, that decision came down, and it was really the only one to make: Hoke has dismissed the troubled Stonum from the team.

"I love Darryl and wish him nothing but the absolute best," Hoke said in a statement. "However, there is a responsibility and a higher standard you must be accountable to as a University of Michigan football student-athlete. That does not and will not change. It's unfortunate because I believe he has grown a great deal as a person since the beginning of the season. My hope is that maturing process continues."

Stonum's maturation process was severely called into question yet again when he was sentenced to 10 days in jail on Jan. 6 for violating his probation. Stonum was arrested for drunken driving as a freshman in 2008, then spent three days in jail in the summer of 2010 for violating probation. In the latest incident, he was stopped for driving on a suspended license while going to a probation meeting, and then lied to his probation officer about how he got there. At least he doesn't lack for nerve.

As Hoke mentioned in this statement, there is a standard for playing at a program like Michigan and others in the Big Ten, and having a guy who has now spent nearly two weeks in jail on probation violations alone falls short of this standard. Hoke inherited the Stonum mess, but cleaning it up was his first major disciplinary litmus test as Wolverines coach. He has set a good tone by not allowing Stonum to come back, proving he doesn't value winning over everything.

Stonum has started 25 games and played in 36 during his career, catching 76 passes for 1,008 yards and six touchdowns.  He also returned 62 kickoffs for 1,538 yards and holds the single-season kickoff return mark with 39 returns for 1,001 yards in 2009.  He redshirted this past season in response to his legal troubles.

"I appreciate everything the University of Michigan, Dave Brandon and Coach Hoke have done for me," Stonum said in the school's release.  "I look forward to continuing my football career down the road, but more importantly, right now I'm focused on graduating from Michigan this spring.  I understand only I am responsible for my actions. I'm sad about how all of this turned out, but I completely understand.  I love this school and my team and will miss them all greatly.  But I'll always be a Wolverine.  I know I have grown and matured as a person over the last nine months, and I will continue to learn and grow every day.  I want to thank everyone for all of their support, and I hope they will support me in the future."

We sincerely hope Stonum views this as a wake-up call and stops making poor choices. Perhaps he can transfer to a lower-level NCAA school and finish his college career, or take his chances as an NFL free agent. He could have been an important playmaker for the Michigan offense next season, especially with productive receiver Junior Hemingway graduating. Jeremy Gallon had a nice sophomore season but is a slot guy at 5-foot-8. The Wolverines will have to hope that Jeremy Jackson continues to improve, that Roy Roundtree can bounce back with a better senior season and that some youngsters come through at wideout, a position that looks a little shaky heading into spring ball.

But there are some things that are more important than experience and talent on the depth chart. Stonum earned his way out of the Michigan program, and good for Hoke for recognizing that.