|This picture is fitting with both Stonum and Forcier leaving|
After numerous incidents wide receiver Darryl Stonum has finally been removed from the team. Although it's always depressing to see any player kicked off the team, this is a little more disappointing than usual. When Stonum was first recruited he was a highly-touted 4 star who appeared destined for the limelight in Rich Rodriguez's famed offense. However, once he arrived on campus he seemed more destined for trouble than anything else.
He had a respectable freshman season in 2008 amassing 176 yards for the season in what was a dreadful offense, however, in 2009 he had a breakout year that many will never forget. Not only did he break the all-time Michigan return record, but he also caught 13 passes for 199 yards with 1 touchdown. He followed this with another successful season in 2010, but what was most telling about his 2010 season was how it began.
Before the 2010 season he was forced to serve jail time after violating his probation. Although this is not excusable, it was his first major offense while wearing a Michigan uniform. He had originally been given probation for a 2008 motor vehicle violation, but one misstep shouldn't be a major ordeal. Many called for a suspension, but Rich Rodriguez allowed him to play the entire season.
However, when he was pulled over for drunk driving in the summer of 2011. Many schools seem to ignore these types of violations (cough cough Notre Dame and Michigan State), but Brady Hoke did not. In a rare move, he decided to red-shirt Stonum for what would have been his senior season. Some said this wasn't enough or was too excessive, but I thought it was a perfect punishment for the crime. Stonum deserved one last chance to wear the maize and blue, but he deserved a punishment that would force him to realize his mistakes. By sitting out his senior year one can hardly say he didn't suffer, but with over 1 year before he would play a game, there was plenty of time to see if his behavior had improved.
Unfortunately, a few days after Michigan's Sugar Bowl victory, Stonum was pulled over for driving to a probation hearing with a suspended license. Afterward he was ordered to serve jail-time as a result. There seemed to be a huge call for Stonum's dismissal from the team and Brady Hoke obliged early today when the athletic department announced Stonum had been kicked off the team.
As I said, it's unfortunate for both Stonum, the school, and the team. Stonum's collegiate career has obviously taken a serious hit, the school's image took a hit, and Michigan's depth at wide receiver for next season took a drastic hit. With only a few receivers returning next year, losing Stonum could given trouble unless a freshman is able to fill the void. However, this shouldn't be the first concern.
Hoke made the difficult decision to kick Stonum off the team, but let's be honest, it was completely deserved. There's no way one can justify that behavior and claim they should still be on the team. Sure the team's ability may take a slight hit for next year, but the move Hoke just made is something that's highly respectable. Winning the right way is what counts, not just winning. Frankly, if kicking Stonum off the team costs this team a chance at winning games next year, so be it. I'd rather lose respectably than win the wrong way.
Photo Credit: Domenic Centofanti