Notre Dame's Floyd makes positive second impression

  • Article by: CHIP SCOGGINS , Star Tribune
  • Updated: April 24, 2012 - 10:13 AM

The Cretin-Derham Hall product has overcome his personal troubles to become one of the top wide receiver prospects in the NFL draft.

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Michael Floyd rewrote the Notre Dame receiving record book, but not until he met conditions following a drunken-driving arrest last year. “It’s about making sure you don’t make the same mistake again,’’ he said.

Photo: Michael Conroy, Associated Press

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Michael Floyd maintained a hectic and nomadic pace in recent weeks, his time consumed by a nonstop blur of plane flights, private dinners and get-to-know-you meetings.

The former Cretin-Derham Hall standout visited nine NFL teams -- including the Vikings -- in advance of Thursday's first round of the draft. Widely regarded as the second-best wide receiver prospect behind Justin Blackmon, Floyd could be a top-10 pick. His size, athleticism and overall skills make him desirable to teams in the market for a big-play, downfield target. But Floyd had off-the-field issues, specifically a drunken driving arrest last spring.

Thus, teams interested in the record-setting Notre Dame receiver invited him to their facilities to get to know him on a more personal level, a coast-to-coast itinerary that would leave even platinum frequent fliers exhausted.

"It's been a little crazy," Floyd said.

Floyd realized his past would be scrutinized, but not every conversation with every coach and executive focused solely on that one subject.

"Probably half and half," he said. "Some of the teams talk about football, some of the teams talk about that other stuff."

Not that he's complaining. He wasn't sure he would even have an opportunity to be wooed by NFL teams this time last year.

Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly suspended Floyd indefinitely following his drunken-driving arrest on campus, his third alcohol-related offense in three years. He had received two prior underage drinking citations in the Twin Cities, but his arrest signaled a seriousness that called for immediate action and left Floyd's football career in limbo.

"The last incident, he was really hurt from that," said Floyd's best friend Shady Salamon, a former Gophers safety. "He felt like he let a lot of people down."

Kelly and the university set certain conditions in order for Floyd to play football again. Essentially, Kelly told him to get his life in order. Floyd attended alcohol counseling and was required to live in a dorm rather than off campus. He said he curtailed his social life, made new friends and focused on being more responsible.

"People all the time have mistakes like this," he said. "It's about moving forward. It's about making sure you don't make the same mistake again. And just keeping a positive head and staying on the positive side of things."

Floyd initially worried that Notre Dame wouldn't allow him to return to football. Convinced that Floyd was genuinely remorseful and had made necessary changes, Kelly lifted the suspension last August, clearing the way for him to play his senior season, although no longer as team captain.

"I give [Kelly] a lot of great thanks for sticking by me, because in that position you never know," Floyd said. "A coach could just rule you out of the thing and kick you off the team and you'd have no availability to be back. He gave me a chance, and I took that chance and moved forward."

Floyd's decision to return to school rather than enter the NFL draft last spring proved wise. He became the 10th Notre Dame player to earn team MVP honors twice and finished his career with a host of school records, including receptions, receiving yards and touchdown catches. He also established himself as the clear-cut No. 2 receiver in the draft, behind Oklahoma State's Blackmon.

Floyd's size -- 6-2, 220 pounds -- fits the prototype of the big, physical receiver that NFL teams covet. He has terrific hands and body control, and he excels at making plays with defenders draped on him.

"I think a lot of teams like bigger receivers," he said. "Just me being a competitor and always coming down with the ball."

Floyd tries to pattern his game after Arizona Cardinals All-Pro Larry Fitzgerald Jr., a natural connection because of their Twin Cities ties, similar physical build and skill set. The two are friends, and Floyd plans to train with Fitzgerald this summer. Sports Illustrated reported on its website Monday that Fitzgerald wants the Cardinals to select Floyd with the 13th overall pick "badly."

Floyd said he has "no sense at all" about where he might end up.

"It's exciting but also kind of nerve-wracking because you don't know anything," he said.

He will get his answer Thursday night. Floyd is scheduled to attend the draft in New York, which is one trip he's happy to make, given everything he's overcome to get there.

"I'm ready to get to a team and help them be successful," he said. "I've matured for sure. I'm just going to stay on my positive track and do what I need to do to be the best player I can on Sundays."

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