Michael Floyd to Return to Notre Dame for Senior Season

After a long and difficult decision, his mind has been made up.

Junior stand-out receiver Michael Floyd is returning to Notre Dame for the 2011 football campaign.

As a result, the Fighting Irish fan base lets out a collective exhale, followed by a jubilant shout of joy.

Here is an excerpt from Floyd’s announcement:

"I'm returning to Notre Dame for three reasons: to earn my degree, return Notre Dame to the top and improve myself as a player. First, I promised my mom I would graduate from Notre Dame and I am 40 credit hours shy of attaining that goal. I chose to attend Notre Dame in part because I knew it was a 40-year decision and not a four-year decision. Graduating from Notre Dame will help me for the rest of my life. Second, I want to get Notre Dame back to a BCS game. I believe we are very close to returning the Irish to where we belong and I want to be part of something great. Lastly, I want to show everyone in the country that I'm the best wide receiver in college football in 2011. There are many things I need to improve, but I feel with the coaching I have at Notre Dame, I can become the best at my position in this game."

There is a lot to like about those comments from Mr. Floyd.

All in all, I think this was a very smart decision on Floyd’s part and it will help the Irish tremendously next season, not only in winning more games but in mentoring the collection of young receivers that will have to step up once he eventually departs South Bend.

It may be true that Floyd didn’t get a particularly high draft grade from NFL advisory board, but his return to Notre Dame does mean he will likely be in the hunt for a first round pick and the top receiver taken in the 2012 draft next year.

Like Brian Kelly, I was critical of Michael Floyd in the beginning of the season because I believed he had a lot to work on to become a better all-around receiver in the post-Weis era.

And to his credit, Floyd has showed vast improvement and increased leadership as the season went on. Maybe his numbers weren’t video game-like in 2010 as some people had hoped, but Floyd was a very big reason that the offense stayed afloat after the season ending injury to quarterback Dayne Crist.

If all goes well next season, Floyd should be a very hot commodity for NFL teams.

His biggest knocks are that he lacks elite quickness, doesn’t make many defenders miss in the open field, and still needs to refine his route running some, but Floyd’s other raw skills (size, hands, power) combined with his leadership and fierce blocking have created one of the most intimidating offensive specimens to ever play football at Notre Dame.

My nickname for Floyd is the "Thoroughbred" because he is so big and strong, yet has such deceptive open-field speed. Although he is not super quick (first five to seven yards of his routes), Floyd can get going in a hurry once he’s built up a short head of steam.

Just ask the Miami secondary about that.

This is wonderful news for the Irish offense because this means they will be returning 10 of 11 starters from the unit that was playing to close out the year. Only senior left guard Chris Stewart departs, while all three starters at receiver return (Floyd, Riddick, Jones) with rarely used senior Duval Kamara the only loss at wideout.

Best of all, this means that Brian Kelly may be able to redshirt one or two of the current verbal commitments at wide receiver.

Although Davaris Daniels and George Atkinson are undoubtedly talented and could push for playing time at receiver, punt returner, or kick returner, the team will be returning their top five wideouts in number of receptions, while sophomores-to-be Bennett Jackson and Daniel Smith will also be pushing hard for minutes.

Unless Daniels or Atkinson prove to be so dynamic (particularly in the return game) that one or both cannot be kept on the sidelines, I would expect them both to sit out and learn with Floyd staying for his senior season.

That may disappoint the incoming freshmen (including Carlisle if he is to sign as well), but the truth is this is the type of decision that can bring about long-term health for a program. With Floyd’s decision to return it not only helps tremendously in 2011, but it could be huge down the road with the incoming group of playmakers still underclassmen but that much more bigger, stronger and experienced.

Congratulations to Michael Floyd on a wonderful decision. The entire Notre Dame family looks forward to you obliterating all of the school’s receiving records!

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