Only 15 names remain on our preseason Big Ten players' countdown. It's time to start breaking down the best of the best.
The next man on our list did quite a bit of damage in Big Ten play last fall. Despite an off-field misstep this summer, we like his potential between the lines in 2012.
No. 15: Fitzgerald Toussaint, RB, Michigan, junior, 5-foot-10, 202 pounds
2011 postseason rank: No. 25
2011 numbers: Recorded 187 carries for 1,041 yards and nine touchdowns, while making 11 starts at running back. Also caught six passes for 28 yards and a score.
Why he's here: Michigan entered the 2011 season wondering who its top running back would be. Toussaint quickly put those questions to rest, rushing for 80 yards and two touchdowns on just 11 carries in the season opener. He did his best work in Big Ten play, recording five 100-yard rushing performances in eight contests and finishing fifth in rushing average during conference games (102.2 ypg). Toussaint surged down the stretch, racking up 450 rush yards and three touchdowns in the final three regular-season games, wins against Illinois, Nebraska and Ohio State.
A July arrest for suspicion of drunken driving puts Toussaint's status in doubt, as he was suspended by coach Brady Hoke and barred from the first few workouts of fall camp before returning to practice this week. But barring a major shift, Toussaint should be on the field fairly soon this season and has a chance to build on his first season as the starter. Coordinator Al Borges wants to take the rushing load off of Denard Robinson, and if Toussaint can build on his finish to 2011, he'll be in the mix for All-Big Ten honors.