Wait nearly over for Michigan's Woolfolk

T-Woolf is still in hibernation, but not for much longer.

Troy Woolfolk's alter ego only comes out on fall Saturdays. After an extended absence because of injury, T-Woolf is scheduled to reappear Sept. 3 when Michigan opens its season against Western Michigan.

"He doesn't come out till the season comes," Woolfolk, the Wolverines' fifth-year senior cornerback, said Thursday. "He stays dormant. He's not back yet."

Woolfolk continues to take steps toward his return after a dislocated ankle suffered in late August wiped out his 2010 season and dealt Michigan's secondary a major blow. Limited during spring practice, Woolfolk has been cleared for full participation.

He first felt 100 percent healthy two to three weeks after Michigan's spring game and has been participating in team runs and 7-on-7 workouts this summer.

"Right now, I don't even remember getting injured," Woolfolk said. "Being out there, I don't feel it. It's not hampering me in any way. I can stop and break at 100 percent, so it's not even a factor.

"I feel like I'm going to hit the ground running right away. I don't think it'll take a few games for me to get my swag back. I'm going to have it from the jump."

The waiting game is nearly over for Woolfolk. The waiter game, meanwhile, is about to begin.

Woolfolk is hosting a fundraiser Sunday in Ann Arbor to benefit the local Humane Society chapter. The event, called Paws for a Cause, will feature a silent auction, a VIP reception and a three-course meal served by Woolfolk and several other Michigan players. Tight end Kevin Koger and offensive lineman Patrick Omameh are among the players joining Woolfolk as waiters for the night.

"I'm pretty sure they have no experience with that," Woolfolk said, "so it should be interesting."

Proceeds from the event will help find homes for abandoned animals and provide medical services for them. Woolfolk always grew up with pets and has both a dog (Julius) and a cat (Jasper) with him in Ann Arbor.

"I've always loved animals, and I wanted to give back somehow," he said. "The Humane Society does a great job helping all the injured and needy animals."

Woolfolk soon will resume summer workouts as he gets ready for preseason camp in August. He has been working mainly with Roy Roundtree, Michigan's top wideout, to prepare for the season.

The recovery was slow, as Woolfolk couldn't do much in the months after surgery. Michigan's defense allowed the most points (458) and pass yards (3,404) in the Big Ten last season, and the secondary Woolfolk could have anchored repeatedly had major breakdowns. Woolfolk started six games at cornerback and six games at safety in 2009, and he has 61 career tackles.

"It wasn't the injury as much because I can deal with pain," Woolfolk said. "It was just the fact I wasn't able to help the team. I saw suffering in some areas where I could help. I feel like I let the team down."

Woolfolk rehabbed throughout the winter and participated in some individual drills this spring. He began with a bang, intercepting a pass on his first drill, but things went downhill from there.

"I started getting beat on fade routes where I never did [before], I started getting beat on slants," he said. "My ankle wasn't right, but it slowly got better. Now I'm back locking down receivers."

If it isn't obvious, Woolfolk doesn't lack confidence, a must for a cornerback. It's an element Michigan's secondary needs after several brutal seasons. The unit has been hampered by injuries, inexperience and flat-out poor play, and the cornerback spot has been hit especially hard.

Woolfolk and J.T. Floyd both return from injuries, and Woolfolk is excited about the potential of young players like safety Carvin Johnson. He also likes the new defensive scheme under coordinator Greg Mattison.

The chance to end his Michigan career on a high note drives Woolfolk, who has been through turbulent times in Ann Arbor.

"This injury was a blessing in disguise because I've got one more year, everybody's gotten that much better and I think we're going to have a more productive year," he said. "I can't wait. I remember telling myself if I get a chance to come back, I've got to give it my all.

"Now I've got that chance."