SOUTH BEND – Notre Dame is going through a second straight spring practice without Michael Floyd. But this time he is not coming back.
Floyd, who was suspended from spring camp last year, graduated as the school’s all-time leader in receptions (266), receiving yards (3,645), touchdown receptions (36), receiving yards per game (86.8) and 100-yard receiving games (17).
Floyd was a great player, receiver DaVaris Daniels said. I can see why everybody is kind of freaking out about him leaving. But we’ve got good players here. Somebody is going to fill the void.
Daniels is one of the more intriguing receivers to step into Floyd’s vacated spot.
The 6-foot-2, 190-pound former four-star recruit didn’t play last season, but coach Brian Kelly said Daniels was one of the top performers during winter conditioning.
We know he’s got the physical ability, now we’ve got to be able to see that translate, and it’s time for him to do it, Kelly said. I’m not ready to anoint him as the next Michael Floyd. He’s got a long way to go. But he’s extremely athletic, so we’re looking for his ability to translate that.
Notre Dame also has experienced receivers to turn to.
TJ Jones produced modest numbers in his first two seasons as a compliment to Floyd. The 5-11, 190-pounder had 61 catches for 672 yards and six touchdowns in his first two seasons.
The guy who has kind of gotten lost in all of this is TJ Jones, outside receivers coach and passing game coordinator Mike Denbrock said. He is a guy who can make plays in our offense, who has got some savvy about him, got some football intelligence about him, got some competitiveness about him.
Robby Toma is the top candidate to take over as the starting slot receiver. The 5-9, 185-pounder had 19 receptions for 207 yards and a touchdown last season.
Bishop Dwenger grad John Goodman, who returns for a fifth year, will also be expected to produce more. The 6-3, 207-pounder had 28 receptions for 315 yards and a touchdown in three seasons.
I have to do a lot more this year, because there are younger guys who haven’t played, Goodman said. I have to make my jump and try to get into that starting lineup.
Daniel Smith, who was a hampered by injuries last season, and incoming freshmen Justin Ferguson and Davonte Neal will also be counted on to contribute.
We try to remind them every other sentence – there’s open jobs, open reps, open responsibilities that somebody needs to kind of seize a hold of, Denbrock said. It’s a great challenge that I think they are up to.