As we inch closer to the #1 spot in our countdown, we come across the only current (current used loosely since he still remains suspended) Notre Dame player to make the list – Michael Floyd.
Michael Floyd career summary
Floyd surprised a lot of people when he committed to Notre Dame shortly after the 2007 massacre at the hands of USC. It had been speculated for a while that Notre Dame was Floyd’s leader, but to commit to the Irish on the heels of such an embarrassing loss was certainly not expected – at least not that soon. Floyd’s commitment though was a huge help in keeping together what turned out to be Charlie Weis’s best recruiting class – a class that finished ranked #2 in the country behind only Alabama.
Once Floyd arrived on campus, it was clear he was going to see the field – the idea of a “red shirt” was never even a consideration. In his first career game, Floyd hauled in his only catch of the game for a 22 yard touchdown at the end of the first half in a game in which Notre Dame barely squeaked by San Diego State. Floyd would only add two more catches in the rain soaked Michigan contest a week later, but since then Floyd has been anything but an after thought any time he stepped on the field. He found the end zone in his 3rd game and then topped the 100 yard mark for the first and second time in his career in games four and five. He would add another two 100 yard outputs over his next four games before suffering his first injury at Notre Dame.
Floyd ended up missing the final three regular season games before making a cameo in the Hawaii Bowl. At the time of his injury, Floyd was on pace to finish his freshman season with 61 catches, 936 yards, and 9 touchdowns. As is, Floyd had to “settle” for 48 catches, 719 yards, and 7 touchdowns – all Notre Dame freshman receiving records.
Floyd was off to a record pace again in 2009 with 11 catches for 320 yards and four touchdowns in the first two games of the year before he suffered another major injury – this time a broken collarbone suffered on a play that could have been ruled a touchdown against Michigan State. Floyd missed the next five games, but returned to light up secondaries for 437 yards on 31 catches with four more touchdowns over the final four games of the season. If you project Floyd’s stats over the course of the season based on the six full games he played, Floyd would have ended up tallying 1,514 yards; 84 catches; and 16 touchdowns. Again, as is, Floyd ended up with just 44 catches and 795 yards with nine touchdowns despite missing all or parts of six games.
In 2010, Floyd enjoyed the most healthy season of his career to date by missing just one game and he responded with his first career 1,000 yard season. Even though the Irish offense struggled at times, Floyd hauled in 79 passes for 1,025 yard and 12 touchdowns – only Golden Tate has ever had more catches in a single season and only Tate, Jeff Samardzija, and Rhema McKnight have had more single season touchdowns. Unlike previous seasons though, Floyd got off to somewhat of slow start in 2010. After three games, Floyd only scored two touchdowns and didn’t put up more than 82 yards or 6 catches during those first three games of 2010. Floyd would rebound nicely, however, with four 100 yard games over the rest of the season including a 157 yard performance against Western Michigan- Floyd’s second highest single season receiving output.
Floyd capped off his junior year with 109 yard, two touchdown performance in Notre Dame’s impressive win over Miami in the Sun Bowl. Those two touchdowns were enough to give Floyd the Notre Dame career record for receiving touchdowns breaking Jeff Samardzija’s previous mark of 27.
Why Michael Floyd is on the countdown
Floyd was difficult to rank because he is the only current player to make our list and he plays at Notre Dame’s most loaded position over the last decade. When looking at the careers of Jeff Samardzija, our #5 player, and Floyd though, the two have very similar numbers with an entire season left to play for Floyd. Samardzija’s record for career touchdowns fell to Floyd in the Sun Bowl and his career mark for receptions and yards could easily fall in the first few weeks of the 2011 season if Floyd is reinstated and stays healthy.
Besides the projections for Floyd, there was one thing that stood out for Floyd to give him the edge over Samardzija and that was the number of games Floyd lost due to injury. Without missing nine games for injury, Floyd would already own all of the Notre Dame career receiving marks. As is, no wide receiver has ever averaged more yards per game than Floyd’s 84.6 yards every contest. At that career average, Floyd would have an additional 760 yards on his resume. With 28 career touchdowns in 27 career games, Floyd would also have about another nine touchdowns had he stayed healthy.
I don’t like dealing in hypotheticals much, but its hard to ignore how much production the missed time has cost Floyd over the course of his career.
Another thing to consider in the case of Floyd is the offense he played on in 2010. Floyd didn’t have the luxury of having a legit playmaker opposite him at wide receiver the way way Samardzija had Stovall in 2005 and McKnight in 2006. He did have the electrifying Golden Tate in 2008 and 2009, but that didn’t help him much in 2010.
The last thing to consider in making the case for Floyd is this – has any player come to Notre Dame and had as big of an impact from the moment he stepped on campus as Floyd over the last 11 years? Clausen and Quinn were starters as freshmen, but both struggled. Tate had one great half of football as a freshman, but that was about it. Samardzija didn’t break out till his junior season. Floyd had an impact from the first catch of his career though and his been a major factor ever since – the same just can’t be said for anyone else over the last 11 years.
Notable performances, records & awards at Notre Dame
- Notre Dame career leader in receiving touchdowns (28)
- Tied for 5th most single game receptions (11) on two separate occasions
- 5th most single season receptions (74) in 2010
- 3rd all-time in career receptions (166) behind Jeff Samardzija and Rhema McKnight
- 10th most single game receiving yards (189) against Nevada in 2009
- 7th most single season receiving yards (1,025) in 2010
- 3rd all-time in career receiving yards (2,539) behind Jeff Samardzija and Golden Tate
- Tied for 2nd most 100 yard games in a career (11) with Tom Gatewood
- Tied with Jeff Samardzija for 4th most single season touchdowns (12) in 2010
- Tied for 2nd most single game receiving touchdowns (3 vs. Nevada in 2009 and 3, vs. Western Michigan in 2010) with 8 others
- Career leader in yards per game (84.6)
- Recorded career long 88 yard touchdown against Nevada in 2009 season opener as part of 3 touchdown, 189 yards performance
- First career catch went for 22 yard touchdown against San Diego State in 2008 season opener
- 4 career games with 10 or more receptions
Floyd’s 3 touchdowns against Nevada
And all 28 of Floyd’s career touchdowns
Post Notre Dame career
Floyd is still enrolled at Notre Dame but as everyone knows, he has still not been reinstated to the football team after his off-season DUI arrest that resulted in a plea bargain last week. If and maybe more accurately at this point, when, Floyd is reinstated, he will have an opportunity to own all of the major career receiving records at Notre Dame. He already owns the touchdown record and the receptions and yards records are easily within striking distance.
Looking into the future, Floyd could be a very high draft pick in next April’s draft. Floyd had asked for an evaluation from the NFL Advisory Committee this past off-season but reportedly he did not receive the draft grade he was looking for and thus returned to Notre Dame for his senior season. With another year in what could be a much more potent Irish attack from a year ago, Floyd could easily catapult himself into the first round of the draft assuming he stays healthy and puts some durability concerns to rest.