August 03, 2011
It was a mere formality, and now it's official: Notre Dame fully reinstated wide receiver Michael Floyd to the team Wednesday morning, a little more than four months after he was suspended indefinitely on the heels of a drunk driving arrest in March — and a little less than four days before the Fighting Irish open preseason practices on Saturday.
In the meantime, the 6-foot-3, 225-pound senior has eluded the wrath of the university's draconian disciplinary arm, been sentenced to one year of probation and apparently met every item on the long list of demands imposed by coach Brian Kelly for his return. ("From the very beginning of this process, Michael knew what was expected for him to be a member of our football program," Kelly said in a statement. "I told Michael that football needed to become of less importance to him while he worked on personal growth.Over the last four months, Michael impressed those that had close contact with him including professional advisors.") Thus, the 2011 Phases of Floyd are complete.
There was never much serious doubt that the cycle would end with Floyd back in Kelly's good graces, part of the reason the preseason prediction industry has forecast a significant leap forward in Kelly's second season — a few of them, including summer mainstays Phil Steele and Athlon, pegging the Irish for the top 10. That hardly seems possible without Floyd, a former five-star recruit and likely first-rounder who spurned the draft to return this fall with every major Notre Dame receiving record well within reach. The Irish bring back nine other returning starters on offense, including a veteran quarterback (Dayne Crist), the leading rusher (Cierre Wood) and three receivers who caught at least 20 passes as underclassmen (Theo Riddick, T.J. Jones and tight end Tyler Eifert), but only Floyd gives them a proven next-level threat who can consistently beat man coverage and force defenses to specifically account for his presence.
He's gone over 100 yards receiving in 13 of 29 career games, brought down multiple touchdown passes in seven and has rarely "disappeared" from the offense for long stretches of time, except in the handful of games he's missed with injury. That doesn't amount to an automatic ticket to a BCS game, obviously, but a healthy Michael Floyd means much healthier odds.
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Matt Hinton is on Twitter: Follow him @DrSaturday.
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