(WSCR) – This isn’t what Michael Floyd envisioned when he was preparing for his first season under new head coach Brian Kelly. A poor record and off-field tragedy have been the focus of a season that seems to have very few positives to this point. Floyd will have a very important decision to make in the coming months, perhaps the biggest decision of his life so far.
Floyd’s decision is a ways off. Notre Dame’s star receiver will have other things on his mind the next two weeks as the Irish wrap up a disappointing season that could still end in a bowl.
Will Floyd do what his former teammate and friend Golden Tate did nearly a year ago and skip his senior season for the NFL? Stay tuned.
“If that comes to a decision that I need to make, then that’s down the road,” Floyd said earlier this season, before the Irish crushed Utah last week to go 5-5.
Floyd, who has 25 career TD catches, third on the school’s all-time list, is plenty busy right now.
With a freshman quarterback in Tommy Rees replacing injured Dayne Crist, and with leading rusher Armando Allen, NFL prospect tight end Kyle Rudolph and slot receiver Theo Riddick all sidelined by injuries, the Irish are looking for Floyd to make a difference. And he has.
“I just kind of do my thing day by day,” says Floyd, who trails only Jeff Samardzija (27) and Tate (26) on the career TD pass list. He’s caught nine for scores this season and leads the team with 59 catches, despite missing the Navy loss with a sore hamstring. He’s fifth on the school’s all-time reception list with 151.
With Rees making his first start last week against Utah, Floyd had four catches, made a crushing block to spring Jonas Gray on a 36-yard run and had a TD reception one play after a pass interference call against him.
At 6-foot-3, 227 pounds, Floyd is strong after the catch, has reliable hands and can jump over defensive backs. He also possesses the most important ability for any receiver – he can get open. And if he’s doubled, it makes it easier on his teammates to get the ball. He’s also not afraid to share what he sees.
“When I see something that needs to be said on the field to any player, or especially wide receivers, I make sure that I get to them and tell them what they did right or what they did correct, just basically positives and negatives,” Floyd said. “But we all kind of correct each other.”
Under first-year coach Brian Kelly, Floyd and other veterans have had to adapt to a spread offense and the personality of the man now running the show.
In the preseason, Kelly worked on Floyd right away, saying at times last year it appeared that Floyd was just average and ran undisciplined routes.
Floyd shrugged off the criticism as motivation and has continued to be a player that defenses have to contain and account for.
Other veteran players like linebacker Brian Smith and wide receiver Duval Kamara have had their playing time altered under the new regime, but both were key performers in the victory over the Utes. Smith made 10 tackles and Kamara caught two TD passes from Rees.
“I mean, we really don’t have a say into different coaches and stuff like that. But it is difficult, you know, having a new coach, bringing a new system in here,” Floyd said. “I think our team did a great job adjusting to it, and it’s only going to get better from here.”
It has been a difficult seven months in more ways than just on the field for the Irish, who play Army on Saturday at Yankee Stadium.
Notre Dame recruit Matt James was killed in an accident during spring break in April. And last month, student videographer Declan Sullivan died after the tower from which he was filming practice toppled over on a windy day.
“It is emotional for our whole team,” Floyd said. “Everybody keeps it in their memories, and we dedicated that (Tulsa) game to Declan. …Keeping both of them in our minds is really what’s the best thing for us. But as a team, we’ve got to move on, and we’ve got to kind of get past that a little bit.”
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