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January 21, 2011

Floyd out to prove a point

Credit Robert Blanton for annoying Michael Floyd into returning for his senior year.

There were about a half-dozen reasons for Notre Dame's star receiver to postpone entry into the NFL draft, but the cornerback who never shuts up played some small part in perhaps the biggest decision of the Irish off-season. Blanton recruited Floyd to keep their practice rivalry going, which dates back to getting beat for a touchdown at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl.

"He probably called me every single day, texted me because he wanted me to come back to make him better," Floyd said. "That's what I liked. That's what I really took into considerations were my teammates I felt like I came in with them and I want to leave out with them."

Floyd will depart Notre Dame a year later than most expected, presumably with every major receiving record packed in his luggage. He already owns the career mark for receiving touchdowns and sits eight catches short of the receptions mark and 168 yards shy of the career yardage record.

Going out on top created some motivation for Floyd's return, but not as much as coming in on top with the NFL. That's not where the NFL Draft Advisory Committee ranked Floyd, tabbing him a potential third round pick.

Head coach Brian Kelly said 26 underclassmen received the same draft grade last year and 17 returned to school. Of the nine that jumped, eight were drafted in the third round or later.

"The feedback that I got just wasn't something that I thought was the best for me and I know that coming back I can raise that up to higher than what I want it," Floyd said. "When I could have left, I could have went to the NFL, but I chose to stay back for school and doing that is a big decision and you've got to change a lot of things around and I feel like what I did last year, you've got to change a lot of things around because even though there were big-time wide receivers going in the draft this year, you know there's going to be the same thing next year.

"I've got to keep working hard and change up some things."

Floyd didn't go deep into the specific evaluation and where he needs to improve, but he mentioned improving his explosiveness and speed for the next level as priorities.

When Floyd does make the jump he'll have his degree in hand, a priority for his mother. Coincidentally, Floyd is enrolled in two classes with Jimmy Clausen, who bolted for the NFL after his junior year and has returned to school this spring to finish his degree.

"I don't sit by him, I don't want to get distracted so I kind of keep my distance," Floyd joked. "Going back to class, it feels good seeing my friends, going around the campus, going around the quads, seeing everybody, it's a good feeling. I feel great being here."

And Kelly feels great having him back.

Consider that Floyd posted 79 catches, 1,025 yards and 12 touchdowns last season. The rest of Notre Dame's receivers (not including backs and tight ends) had a collective season of 103 catches, 1,025 yards and nine scores.

"He's the No. 1 signee, no question," Kelly said. "If there's a sixth star, he gets a sixth star. He is a workhorse. He sets the bar for our how our guys compete in the off-season."

If that's the case, Blanton will get a first-round quality workout all year.

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