By returning for his senior season, Michael Floyd will likely go down as the most productive receiver in Notre Dame history. He already holds the Notre Dame record for most touchdown receptions, he’s second in most receptions and third in receiving yards. He accomplished all of that in three injury shortened seasons. Barring an injury as a senior, he’ll own all of those records by the time he leaves. More importantly to Irish fans his presence ensures a shaky quarterback position will have a go-to receiver that teams will have constantly account for.
Floyd willed Notre Dame down the field at the end of the first half against USC and almost single handedly buried Miami early in the Sun Bowl. More importantly, when ND needed a catch, it turned to Floyd. Floyd accounted for over half of Notre Dame’s receiving yards against the Hurricanes despite going against Brandon Harris, a likely second round pick , who was part of operation No. 3, a defensive game plan designed specifically to stop him.
“Coming into the game there was no secret who their best receiver was and their best player on offense,” UM cornerback Brandon Harris said. “Unfortunately, he was able to make some big-time plays on us.” Arguably the biggest came on the opening drive. On third-and-16 from Notre Dame’s 40-yard line, Floyd caught a quick slant and roared down the middle of the field. “That was a dagger in the heart,” cornerback Ryan Hill said. “That’s something that can’t happen as a defense.”
Hurricanes defensive coordinator John Lovett said that he was wary of Floyd, who he faced while an assistant coach at North Carolina. The Fighting Irish had Golden Tate that year, “but Floyd gave us nightmares,” Lovett said. “He was very physical. They could throw the ball up in the air and he had the ability to just go and get it.”
“It’s not hard when you’re throwing the ball to Mike,” Rees said. “He’s such a great player. I knew that if I threw it anywhere near him he was going to make the catch.”
If Notre Dame can sort out the quarterback position, Floyd has the talent to make a Heisman run. Some knock his speed, but Floyd consistently outruns the fastest cornerbacks in the country.
“This was one of the toughest decisions I have ever had to make in my life,” Floyd said. “On the one hand, there was Notre Dame. This place has been an incredible home to me and the relationships I built here are ones I know I’ll have for the rest of my life. On the other hand, there was the NFL. It has always been a lifelong goal to play football at the highest level and that is something I look forward to doing at some point. However, I’m pleased to say I will be returning to the University of Notre Dame for my senior season in 2011.
“I’m returning to Notre Dame for three reasons: to earn my degree, return Notre Dame to the top and improve myself as a player. First, I promised my mom I would graduate from Notre Dame and I am 40 credit hours shy of attaining that goal. I chose to attend Notre Dame in part because I knew it was a 40-year decision and not a four-year decision. Graduating from Notre Dame will help me for the rest of my life. Second, I want to get Notre Dame back to a BCS game. I believe we are very close to returning the Irish to where we belong and I want to be part of something great. Lastly, I want to show everyone in the country that I’m the best wide receiver in college football in 2011. There are many things I need to improve, but I feel with the coaching I have at Notre Dame, I can become the best at my position in this game.”
Coach Brian Kelly knows he’s the recipient of a very fortunate decision.
“I know Michael put a great deal of thought in determining whether he should enter the NFL this year and I truly appreciate and respect him for realizing the gravity of his decision,” Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly said. “Whether Michael went to the NFL this year or next year would not have changed my opinion that he will have a long and successful career at the next level. I would have supported Michael’s decision either way, but obviously I am thrilled he will be part of our team in 2011.
“As I have said many times, I have never had a player work as hard as Michael. That work ethic and passion for football proved to be contagious in our locker room and it was not a coincidence that he represented the offense as a gameday captain more than any other player this year. I’m happy Michael feels it is in his best interests to return to Notre Dame to continue his education and I look forward to the expanded leadership role he’ll have with the team this year.”
Hopefully Floyd can avoide the “Hype Curse”. In recent times, Notre Dame players that were hyped going into their senior seasons, rarely lived up to the billing.