In the moments that followed Michael Floyd stepping into his own dream
Thursday night, Notre Dame’s all-time leading receiver was on the
phone helping to shape the dreams of a player that hopes to walk in
Floyd didn’t have a protracted wait at Radio City Music Hall in New
York, becoming an Arizona Cardinal with the 13th pick of the
three-day, seven-round 2012 NFL Draft.
He slapped on a Cards hat, mugged for the cameras and gushed to the
ESPN crew about how much he looks forward to being mentored by Arizona
veteran receiver Larry Fitzgerald, who told Sports Illustrated’s Peter
King that he campaigned the team brass to take the 6-foot-3, 220-pound
Shortly thereafter, Floyd connected with future Irish receiver
Davonte’ Neal, according to Arizona Republic reporter Richard Obert.
Floyd has been mentoring the former Scottsdale (Ariz.) Chaparral High
star since he signed with the Irish in late February.
Neal, a wide receiver and return man, enrolls at ND in June, at which
time Floyd will have already started the next chapter of his football
career in Neal’s home state. Floyd’s projected first regular-season
game will be against former Irish sidekick Golden Tate and the Seattle
Seahawks, Sept. 9 in Glendale, Ariz.
Floyd becomes the third Irish player to go in the first round in the
2000s, joining quarterback Brady Quinn (2007) and center Jeff Faine
(2003). Later in the first round, at pick No. 29, safety Harrison
Smith became the fourth.
The Minnesota Vikings traded up to get Smith, giving up an
early-second-round selection and a fourth-round choice to get him. He
joins former Irish standouts John Sullivan, Kyle Rudolph and John
Carlson on the Vikings’ roster.
The draft continues Friday night at 7 p.m. (ESPN) with rounds 2 and 3.
Rounds 4-7 unfold Saturday (noon-8 p.m.) on ESPN. Defensive back
Robert Blanton and outside linebacker Darius Fleming are the next in
line to be selected, but it may be day three before they get the call.
With Smith and Floyd being drafted Thursday night, it marked the first
time since 1994 that the Irish had multiple picks in the first round.
Smith is the first defensive first-rounder to come out of Notre Dame
since Renaldo Wynn in 1997.
Floyd, a St. Paul, Minn., product, is the fourth ND receiver to ever
go in Round One. He joins Tim Brown (1988), Jim Seymour (1969) and
Jack Snow (1965). And he did so after a string of alcohol-related
brushes with the law, including a March 2011 drunk-driving arrest,
threatened to diminish his pro prospects.
“The motivation was being in this position right now,” Floyd said of
making the most of his chance at redemption that Irish coach Brian
Kelly and the school’s disciplinary arm, the Office of Residence life,
“I could not be happier for Michael and his family,” Kelly said in a
statement. “I’ve said many times I have never coached a person as
talented as Michael, and his selection tonight shows that.
“Michael’s work ethic and passion for football are unparalleled and
fans of the Cardinals will love the productivity he’ll bring to
Floyd won over the Arizona coaches and staff with honesty about his past.
“I just basically told them it was a bad decision,” he said during a
conference call Thursday night. “I learned from it and I moved on. I
know I can’t be like every other college student, just doing what a
college student does, because the spotlight is on me.
“They wanted to see if I had improvements since that time, and I have.
I’ve moved on.”
Floyd becomes the first wide receiver taken by the Cardinals in the
first round since the team selected fellow Minnesota product
Fitzgerald with the third overall pick in 2004. Floyd said he has
known Fitzgerald since Floyd was in high school. Fitzgerald played
collegiately at Pitt.
“We text back and forth,” Floyd said. “Whenever I need some advice or
anything like that, he’s there that I can contact.
“I know I talked to Larry, and I know he wanted me there, but you
never know how this draft is going to go. I’m just excited that I get
the chance to play and to be an Arizona Cardinal.”
Smith, meanwhile, became the 63rd first-rounder from Notre Dame in NFL
Draft history. He is the earliest Notre Dame defensive back to be
selected since Jeff Burris was taken with the 27th pick in the 1994
draft by Buffalo.
“Harrison Smith is one of the best leaders I’ve ever had on any of my
teams,” Kelly said. “He is an intelligent and instinctual player on
the field and a true student of the game off the field.
“He’ll be a great fit for Minnesota’s defense, and I can’t wait to
watch his long and successful pro career.”
Smith played both safety and linebacker at Notre Dame and finished his
career with 309 tackles, 18½ tackles for loss, three sacks, seven
interceptions, 28 pass breakups, two forced fumbles and one fumble
recovery. He is the only player in Notre Dame history to register at
least 200 tackles, 15 tackles for loss and 15 pass breakups.
Floyd owns five career receiving records, ranks in the top 10 of 11
single-season receiving lists and is in the top 10 on nine single-game
He is the Notre Dame career record-holder for receptions (271),
receiving yards (2,686), receiving touchdowns (37), average yards
receiving per game (85.7) and games with at least 100 receiving yards
“I was excited when I got the call,” Floyd said. “I saw the 602 number
coming in. I wanted to jump for joy, but I kept it calm.
“I’m going to keep working hard. That’s been my art, that’s in my head
that I’m a workaholic. I’m going to work hard to get in that