ANN ARBOR -- Fitz Toussaint knows one things about the 2013 football season.
It can't possibly be worse than 2012.
For the second summer in a row, Toussaint is expected to be Michigan's starting tailback, especially after the injury to five-star freshman Derrick Green. This year, though, he hopes things work out a little better.
The senior spent last summer knowing he had the tailback job wrapped up. With Denard Robinson at quarterback, distracting defenses, Toussaint thought he was in for the season of his life. Instead, it mostly turned into a nightmare.
The first disaster was self-inflicted. In late July, Toussaint was arrested for drunk driving. He was suspended from the team within days, and didn't return until after the first game of the season.
Between the missed practice and game time and a struggling offensive line, Toussaint never got going. He had only gained 483 yards and scored five touchdowns by the time he ran a sweep early in the Nov. 17 game against Iowa.
Seconds later, a tough season was the least of his problems. As Toussaint was tackled by a pair of Hawkeyes, he broke both bones in his lower left leg. As he laid on the visiting sideline at Michigan Stadium, his first thought was that he was cramping up. That thought only lasted until he looked down.
"I knew it was bad," he said. "Right then, I didn't think I was ever going to play again. I didn't know what was going to happen to me. It was hard to think of anything else. I just knew my leg was wrecked."
He was right about that. His season was over, and his career was certainly in doubt. By the time the Wolverines finished off their victory over Iowa, Toussaint was being prepared for surgery on his shattered leg. The next day, the doctors told him that, yes, he would probably be able to play football again. It was going to take a lot of effort, though.
That didn't bother him.
"I knew that if it was just a matter of working hard, I would be able to do it," he said. "I would have started rehabbing right then, if they had let me."
Even with hard work, it seemed unlikely that Fitzgerald would be ready for the beginning of fall camp in August. He certainly wasn't supposed to be practicing with his teammates in the spring. But when they started drills in March, he was on the field. He couldn't do everything, but he was way ahead of schedule.
When the Wolverines returned to practice last week, Fitzgerald was there, doing every drill. After the first week of practice, there was no doubt left in his mind.
"I'm 100 percent ready right now," he said. "I'm doing every drill, and I'm not having any problems. Our first game is August 31st, and I'll be our starting running back."
At the moment, it looks like he'll be right. His biggest competition was supposed to come from Green, a part of Michigan's stacked recruiting class, but he's been sidelined by an injury that the Wolverines aren't willing to discuss. There are other candidates, but Toussaint has done enough to impress Brady Hoke.
"He has been great," Hoke said. "He's done everything, and we've been hitting each other pretty good. It's great to see."
With Michigan switching to a pro-style running game, Hoke doesn't expect one player to carry the load alone. Once Green gets healthy, he will get some carries, as well Justice Hayes and Drake Johnson.
"I think there will be more than one guy -- we have the personnel to do that," Hoke said. "But we're going to know who the main guy is by nine or ten days before the opener. There will be one guy in that role."
That's likely to be Toussaint, if he can overcome one last obstacle.
"I know I can do everything that I did a year ago," he said. "I just have to train myself not to think about the fact that I had a broken leg. That's not something you can be worried about when you are running the ball."