Apr 2, 2012, 2:32 PM EDT
As dozens of NFL scouts descend on South Bend to get a look at former Irish wide receiver Michael Floyd, a familiar wingman will be uniting for a one-day performance that’ll hopefully lift both players’ stock. Jimmy Clausen, three-year Irish starter, now relegated to playing the role of Cam Newton’s backup, will head back to Notre Dame, where he’ll throw passes to Floyd in his individual workout.
Together, Clausen and Floyd made a wonderful duo, teaming for 16 touchdown passes in Floyd’s first two injury-shortened seasons under head coach Charlie Weis. The pairing made Floyd one of the most dangerous receivers in college football, with the underclassmen averaging a gaudy 16.5 yards per catch over his first two seasons in South Bend, a deep strike threat that never returned after Clausen left after his junior season and Brian Kelly’s spread offense struggled to find a triggerman.
For Floyd, Tuesday’s workout will be another data-point for teams looking to take a wide receiver in the first round of the upcoming NFL Draft. Having answered any questions about his speed after clocking two sub-4.5 forty-yard dashes at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, Floyd will likely run a variety of routes, displaying the hands, route-running and explosiveness that has him challenging Justin Blackmon as the draft’s No. 1 wide receiver.
The return to South Bend also helps Clausen, who has become a forgotten man in Carolina after Cam Newton burst on the scene in a record-setting rookie season. Just two years after being taken in the second round, Clausen could use this workout as a way to get in front of NFL scouts, reminding them that there’s potentially some good football still to be played if Clausen is cut loose after his contract numbers kick up and Carolina cuts him.
Eight other departing seniors will participate in the Notre Dame Pro Day, with Harrison Smith the next in line to come off the board. Smith is battling to be the top safety picked and likely will be taken in the first two rounds of the draft. Robert Blanton will look to improve his 40-time after impressing in other drills at the combine while fellow cornerback Gary Gray will also test for NFL teams. Linemen Taylor Dever and Trevor Robinson will work out as well, with Robinson getting his first chance to impress NFL teams after missing out on an invitation to Indianapolis. Darius Fleming will hopefully displaying enough positional versatility — working out at both inside and outside linebacker, and defensive end — to get a team to gamble a late-round pick on a good athlete that’ll contribute on special teams. David Ruffer, who needs to bounce back after a sub-par senior season, will also kick for teams. Jonas Gray will also be an intriguing prospect for teams, with the breakout senior proving to teams that his injured knee is healed. Senior defensive end Ethan Johnson, who had the potential to chase a professional career, will not workout, choosing to retire from football after four seasons with the Irish.
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