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Ian Williams talks Draft, Michael Floyd

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I’ve mentioned Ian Williams’ draft diary at the South Bend Tribune before, but you really should be checking out his updates as he preps for the upcoming NFL Draft.

This week, Ian checks in as he works on getting his 40-yard dash time down, where I’m guessing he’s trying to find a way to clock in at sub 5.0, no easy feat for a guy that weighs over 300 pounds. (As Ian mentioned, it’s all in your start…)

Between training in Chicago, taking his first business class this spring, and getting prepped for piano class, Williams also had some very level-headed commentary on Michael Floyd, and his future with the Fighting Irish football team.

One of the great things about being back up here is seeing all of my old teammates. I talk to a lot of them, including Michael Floyd.

What happened to him (arrested for drunk driving early Sunday morning and subsequently indefinitely suspended from the team) was a tough incident. I wish that upon nobody.

I actually was in town the night that it happened. I actually called him a couple of hours before everything happened, and I’ve talked to him since.

He says he’s learned his lesson. He’s looking to get back into the spotlight and show people that’s not really him, because that’s not Michael Floyd.

We’re all in college, we all make mistakes. Nobody’s perfect. He’s learned his lesson. He’s looking to move forward and get past this moment.

I hope Res Life (Notre Dame’s disciplinary arm) lets him do that. Res Life is tough. I remember when I was getting recruited, people were telling me don’t be scared of the laws. Res Life is what you should be scared of.

I just hope they give him a break. It’s a one-time offense. He’s truly sorry. It’s not like he was doing it on purpose. I don’t know why he was doing it, but I know it wasn’t like, “Oh. I’m Michael Floyd. Nothing will happen to me.” I just hope they give him a second chance.

As an athlete, you know what you’re getting into with the spotlight. And you can take it two ways.

We do what we do, knowing our lives are going to be public, everything we do is going to be public. That’s kind of a side effect of being an athlete, playing basketball or football or whatever.

You can take it and run and do something good with it or you can take it and run and do something bad with it. It comes down to how you perceive it and how you want to take it on.

I just want to let everyone know that Floyd is a great kid. He will get past this and will be great this season. Don’t worry about it.

One of the problems with sports media and the current state of our culture is that we’re forced to make snap judgments. Black or white, right or wrong. There’s no room for gray or degrees of fault. At every level, what Michael did was wrong, and now he’s left it up to the university, and after that, head coach Brian Kelly, to decide what the proper punishment is for one of the team’s best examples and leaders. (That didn’t change after one bad Saturday night.)

As someone that’s watched Michael Floyd play football since he was a ninth grader and as someone who doesn’t even try to hide his prejudicial preference for all things No. 3, it’s hard for me to be someone who argues for anything other than giving Floyd a second chance.

Driving drunk is a terrible mistake and something someone like Floyd, who turned down millions of dollars to return to school, should know better not to do. Yet he’s spent the last four years of his life at Notre Dame, a pro-alcohol school and before that CDH, another place where students seem to only struggle with the alcohol bug. It’s easy to get indignant as a fan that realizes how privileged. Yet there’s no reason not to think that Floyd don’t deserves a second chance, and if he makes it through Res Life, and into the fall semester, he’ll be back on the field.

Until then, we’ll just have to find out…

Five Irish players sign UFA contracts

Matthias Farley
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Notre Dame had seven players selected in the 2016 NFL Draft, trailing only Ohio State, Clemson and UCLA on the weekend tally. But after the draft finished, the Irish had five more players get their shot at playing on Sundays.

Chris Brown signed with the Dallas Cowboys. Romeo Okwara will begin his career with the New York Giants. Matthias Farley and Amir Carlisle signed contracts with the Arizona Cardinal. Elijah Shumate agreed to a contract with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

After missing two seasons, Ishaq Williams will be at Giants rookie camp next weekend as well, working as a tryout player. Expect Jarrett Grace to receive similar opportunities.

Count me among those that thought both Brown and Okwara would hear their names called. Brown’s senior season, not to mention his intriguing measureables, had some projecting him as early as the fifth round.

Okwara, still 20 years old and fresh off leading Notre Dame in sacks in back-to-back seasons, intrigued a lot of teams with his ability to play both defensive end and outside linebacker. He’ll get a chance to make the Giants—the team didn’t draft a defensive end after selecting just one last year, and they’re in desperate need of pass rushers.

Both Shumate and Farley feel like contenders to earn a spot on rosters, both because of their versatility and special teams skills. Shumate played nickel back as a freshman and improved greatly at safety during 2015. Farley bounced around everywhere and was Notre Dame’s special teams captain.

Carlisle might fit a similar mold. He played running back, receiver and returned kicks and punts throughout his college career. With a 4.4 during Notre Dame’s Pro Day, he likely showed the Cardinals enough to take a shot, and now he’ll join an offense with Michael Floyd and Troy Niklas.

 

Robertson picks Cal over Notre Dame, UGA

Demetris Robertson
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Demetris Robertson‘s decision wasn’t trending in Notre Dame’s direction. But those that expected the Savannah star athlete to pick the in-state Bulldogs were in for a surprise when Robertson chose Cal on Sunday afternoon.

Notre Dame’s pursuit of the five-star athlete, recruited to play outside receiver and hopefully replace Will Fuller, likely ended Sunday afternoon with Robertson making the surprise decision to take his substantial talents to Berkeley. And give credit to Robertson for doing what he said all along—picking a school that’ll give him the chance to earn an exceptional education and likely contribute from Day One.

“I am excited to take my talents to the University of California, Berkeley. The first reason is that the education was a big part of my decision. I wanted to keep that foundation,” Robertson said, per CFT. “When I went there, it felt like home. Me and the coaching staff have a great relationship. That’s where I felt were the best of all things for me.”

Adding one final twist in all of this is that Robertson has no letter-of-intent to sign. Because he’s blown three months through Signing Day, Robertson merely enrolls at a college when the time comes. That means until then, Kirby Smart and the Georgia staff will continue to sell Robertson on staying home and helping the Dawgs rebuild. Smart visited with Robertson Saturday night and had multiple assistant coaches at his track meet this weekend.

Summer school begins in June for Notre Dame. Their freshman receiving class looks complete with early enrollee Kevin Stepherson and soon-to-arrive pass-catchers Javon McKinley and Chase Claypool.

Sheldon Day drafted in 4th round by Jaguars

North Carolina v Notre Dame
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Former Notre Dame captain Sheldon Day didn’t have to wait long on Saturday to hear his name called. The Indianapolis native, All-American, and the Irish’s two-time defensive lineman of the year was pick number 103, the fourth pick of the fourth round on Saturday afternoon.

Day was the seventh Irish player drafted, following first rounders Ronnie Stanley and Will Fuller, second round selections Jaylon Smith and Nick Martin, and third rounders KeiVarae Russell and C.J. Prosise.

Day has a chance to contribute as he joins the 24th-ranked defense in the league. Joining a draft class heavy on defensive players—Jalen Ramsey, Myles Jack and Yannick Ngakoue already picked ahead of him—the front seven will also include last year’s No. 3 overall pick Dante Fowler, who missed the entire season with a knee injury.

Scouted by the Jaguars at the Senior Bowl, Day doesn’t necessarily have the size to be a traditional defensive tackle. But under Gus Bradley’s attacking system (Bradley coordinated the Seahawks defense for four seasons), Day will find a niche and a role in a young defense that’s seen a heavy investment the past two years.

Smith, Martin, Russell and Prosise all drafted Friday night

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - SEPTEMBER 13: William Fuller #7 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish and Nick Martin #72 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish celebrate a touchdown during the game against the Purdue Boilermakers at Lucas Oil Stadium on September 13, 2014 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)
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Jaylon Smith, Nick Martin, KeiVarae Russell and C.J. Prosise were all selected on Friday, with four Irish teammates taken on the second night of the NFL Draft. As mentioned, Smith came off the board at pick 34, with the Cowboys gambling on the injured knee of the Butkus Award winner. Nick Martin was selected at pick 50, joining former teammate Will Fuller in Houston.

The third round saw Russell and Prosise come off the board, with Kansas City jumping on the confident cornerback and the Seahawks taking Notre Dame’s breakout running back. It capped off a huge night for the Irish with Sheldon Day, one of the more productive football players in college football, still on the board for teams to pick.

Here’s a smattering of instant reactions from the immediate aftermath.