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March 22, 2011

Out of sight, not out of mind

Brian Kelly won’t write off Michael Floyd.

As for writing out the star receiver, that’s already been done by Notre Dame.

Floyd is no longer listed on the Irish roster, his contributions have been edited from the spring practice overview and the senior isn’t noted as a returning starter for next season. Kelly suspended Floyd indefinitely yesterday and will prepare for life without the program’s historically talented receiver when spring practice opens tomorrow.

“I think every time there’s an injury or somebody that’s not with us, our focus is strictly on the guys that are here,” Kelly said. “We are preparing our guys through the skill development and unit consistency around the guys that are here. But that really has not changed much relative to how I go to work every day, whether it's a suspension or not.

“We are going to go to work and develop our players and we can only develop the players that are here.”

Minus Floyd, the Irish return seven scholarship receivers following secondary switches by Bennett Jackson and Austin Collinsworth along with Luke Massa’s move from quarterback to wide out. That leaves Theo Riddick, TJ Jones, Robby Toma, John Goodman, Daniel Smith and Deion Walker to pick up the slack.

That group posted a combined 92 catches for 1,053 yards and six touchdowns last season. On his own, Floyd put up 79 catches for 1,025 yards and 12 scores.

If Floyd does return this fall following his weekend arrest and charge of operating a vehicle while intoxicated, it probably won’t be in a leadership role. Kelly said Floyd has been stripped of his captaincy, leaving Harrison Smith to fill that role for the entire team.

“I think any time you’re suspended from a team, you vacate that (captaincy) position,” Kelly said. “I reserve the right down the road if we ever get to a reinstatement for things move in that direction, we can certainly revisit it. But I think any time you can assume, at least under my watch, that you are in a suspension, you are no longer acting in that capacity.”

In a depth chart sense, Floyd’s suspension pushes Goodman into the starting lineup at the W position with Smith in reserve. Riddick remains the starting slot receiver with Toma backing him up. That leaves Jones at the X spot, presumably with Walker on the second team.

The overlooked senior didn’t play a snap last season and had been written up as a recruiting bust by fans. However, Kelly believes the Irish may simply have a late bloomer in the one-time five-star prospect. It’s an opinion Notre Dame’s head coach held before Floyd’s suspension.

“His love for the game and commitment, he has shown a totally different side of him in our workouts up to this point,” Kelly said. “I'm excited and quite frankly, Deion is a guy that I want to see and he's going to get some reps and get some work and we are going to have a clear evaluation as to where he is in this program after the spring.”

Floyd can’t be described in similar terms. In fact, he can’t be described in any terms at all.







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