Michael FloydA

With path cleared, Floyd takes on a new journey

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Let’s be clear. Michael Floyd is a long way from appearing in the home opener against South Florida in September. But today, as I reported via Twitter, he cleared a remarkable hurdle.

After being arrested on March 20th for drunk driving, Floyd put a career set to go down in the Irish record books in jeopardy by driving home drunk. (A drive about a half-mile door-to-door, or less than a four-dollar cab ride.) He was arrested and booked by Notre Dame Security Police and still faces the legal consequences of the misdemeanor charge, as well as the not insignificant costs associated with the arrest.

But beyond the legal and financial ramifications still to be faced, many had assumed that Floyd’s career at Notre Dame was over, thanks to the unforgiving nature of DuLac, the student disciplinary code that has been handled stone-fisted for much of the last twenty years by ResLife, the disciplinary arm on campus.

As an isolated incident, the DUI certainly was a worry, but when added to the minor-consumption run-ins (not driving related incidents as others are reporting) Floyd had previously back in Minnesota — one of which was widely reported in the days before Brian Kelly arrived on campus — it seemed too much to overcome.

All the goodwill Floyd had earned making the difficult decision to return to school for his senior season had instantly been lost. The kudos he received for returning to Notre Dame for his degree and to prove the self-belief he had in his abilities was forgotten. No. 3 wasn’t just the revered number on Floyd’s Irish jersey, but the alcohol related run-ins he’s had since leaving high school in St. Paul. With the drunk driving arrest three weeks ago, Floyd instantly lost all the wonderful things he’s been called over his three year career in South Bend and became just another one of “them.”

(Just wait until you read the headlines…)

Again, Floyd’s path back to the football field hasn’t been cleared. He’ll still need to deal with the discipline of head coach Brian Kelly, the athletic department, and even more seriously, St. Joseph County prosecutors. And while the decision will undoubtedly have skeptics crowing about the university’s decaying code of ethics or the double-standard for star athletes, the decision, spearheaded by Father Tom Doyle, the Vice President of Student Affairs, shows a continuing level of understanding when it comes to disciplining both athletes and students at Notre Dame, long one of the biggest issues on campus.

The fact that Michael isn’t getting suspended for a semester is a credit to the person he is outside of the legal blips he’s had, all of which are a result of alcohol. As Brian Kelly mentioned and I can confirm, Floyd has taken proactive measures, committed to finishing his degree at Notre Dame regardless of the punishment, and making the right choices in his social life, something he didn’t do the weekend before spring practice was set to start.

For those calling for Floyd’s dismissal or an academic punishment that’d have likely made it impossible for Michael to either play or graduate before the next NFL Draft, consider the standard punishment in college football that’s befitting of the crime: Around one game.

Floyd’s sat out two-thirds of spring practice and was stripped of his captaincy, punishments already considered severe enough in most major college football programs. But the introspection that’s been forced upon the 21-year-old’s life, not to mention the unannounced community service and education he’ll continue to receive, make the headlines of a star players reprieve a lot less than the whole story.

When asked last week what his senior captain and football team can learn from the incident, Brian Kelly was philosophical but supportive of his team’s most valuable player.

“As a football coach and somebody who’s in athletics, I think we all look at it the same way,” Kelly said. “When alcohol’s involved, bad decisions certainly follow. So every day we talk about making good decisions and educate our players about how to do that.

“Look, I’m a teacher and an educator. From my perspective, I’m always thinking about educational opportunities, so I always think in those terms. My first reaction is always about how can we learn. But that’s me. I’m not in that office.”

That office, the one that allowed Michael Floyd to continue as a student at Notre Dame, even though previous administrations likely wouldn’t have, gave the Irish’s best offensive player the opportunity to prove that his alcohol related mistakes don’t define him.

He’ll have the months leading up to the South Florida game, not to mention the rest of his life, to prove it.

 

 

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.

 

 

Jaylon Smith goes to Dallas with 34th pick

PITTSBURGH, PA - NOVEMBER 07:  Jaylon Smith #9 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish celebrates by wearing the hat of team mascot, Lucky The Leprechaun, following their 42-30 win against the Pittsburgh Panthers at Heinz Field on November 7, 2015 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
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Jaylon Smith’s nightmare is over.

After watching his football life thrown into chaos with a career-altering knee injury, Smith came off the board after just two picks in the second round, selected by the Dallas Cowboys with the 34th pick. His selection ended the most challenging months of Smith’s young life, and come after cashing in a significant tax-free, loss-of-value insurance policy that’ll end up being just shy of a million dollars.

No, it’s not top-five money like Smith could’ve expected if he didn’t get hurt. But Smith isn’t expected to play in 2016.

And while there was a pre-draft fascination that focused on the doom and gloom more than the time-consuming recovery, it’s worth pointing out that Dallas’ medical evaluation comes from the source—literally. After all, it was the Cowboys team doctor, Dr. Dan Cooper, who performed the surgery to repair Smith’s knee.

Smith joins Ezekiel Elliott with the Cowboys, arguably the two best position players in the draft. While he might not be available in 2016, Smith will be under the supervision of the Cowboys’ medical staff, paid a seven-figure salary to get healthy with the hopes that he’ll be back to his All-American self sooner than later, especially as the nerve in his knee returns to full functionality.