February 6, 2008

Floyd envisions Michigan future at two positions

J.T. Floyd committed to Tennessee in September, but even before deciding to become a Volunteer, he admits having a few doubts. With off-season discussion centering on the future of UT head coach Phil Fulmer's job status, Floyd was worried he'd have to endure a coaching change. Ironically, he did, but not at Tennessee …

"Initially, the reason I re-opened my recruitment was because so many people were telling me that Coach Fulmer was going to let go and that's when I decided to start looking around," Floyd told TheWolverine.com Tuesday night.

"One of the staffs I started to get to know was Michigan's. Coach [Vance] Bedford and Coach [Erik] Campbell really sold me on their program, but the truth was I've always followed Michigan football. Charles Woodson is my all-time favorite player and I've known about the winged helmet, the tradition and the academics for a long time.

Floyd, a three-star prospect from Greenville, S.C., almost made the switch to Michigan during his senior season, but then he started hearing rumblings that the U-M coach Lloyd Carr was going to retire. When it happened, he dropped the Wolverines completely, he said, but a call from secondary coach Tony Gibson changed that.

"My interest took off again," Floyd said. "Coach Gibson brings a lot of energy to the game. He reminded me of my current defensive backs coach and that's the kind of guy I love playing for. I took a look into Coach Gibson's background a little bit and he had a strong track record. He coached Pacman Jones and on the field Pacman is a monster. Off the field … well. But on the field, he tore it up."

Floyd promised when he enrolls at Michigan, he'll keep "my head in the books and be a good citizen. I won't ever embarrass Michigan."

On his visit, Floyd hung out with his host, cornerback Donovan Warren, but also spent a good amount of time with linebacker Jonas Mouton and quarterback Steve Threet. The family atmosphere provided by the players and meetings with head coach Rich Rodriguez and defensive coordinator Scott Shafer convinced Floyd he needed to become a Wolverine.

"It's definitely a blessing," he said. "I am the only player from my county in South Carolina going to Division I and my county is the biggest in the state … so it's rare. I'm excited, blessed. I feel like a weight has been taken off my shoulders, for me and for my family.

"I'm really excited to be a part of the Michigan family. I want to go down as another player that took part in continuing this great tradition. I want to help us bring the fans another national title and with the players were assembling, and the guys we'll bring in, I think we have a real good shot.

"Personally, I don't want to compare myself to anybody. Hopefully, I can come in and play a lot as a freshman and be a Freshman All-Big Ten type of player. As I go along, I just want to work as hard as I can to meet any challenge thrown my way."

If Floyd impacts in 2008, it may not be at cornerback. But it may. According to Floyd, he has had discussions with Shafer to learn both the cornerback and safety positions, believing versatility will be key to his immediate future in Ann Arbor and his potential future in the NFL.

"Jason Allen, a guy that went to Tennessee, played cornerback and some safety in college but then when he was drafted, the Dolphins wanted him as a safety," Floyd said. "He's a very versatile guy and I think that makes him so much more valuable to his team. I just want the opportunity to get on the field and I'm going to learn both positions, dissect them, practice at them. If Michigan needs me to play corner, I can. If they need me to step in at safety, I can."

At 6-0, 185 pounds, and with a 4.43 40-yard dash - run at the Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas - Floyd already has the physical size and speed he'd need to play cornerback, but he wants to add 10 more pounds so that he can play both positions.

"I envision myself as a Reggie Nelson from Florida - he's always around the ball, always making plays, always laying guys out," Floyd said. "He's the kind of guy that every offensive player has to be aware of and that's the kind of player I want to be."

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