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Saturday May 12 Coffee

  • Making Mike Floyd Better
    Make no mistake, Ted Johnson was honored to be invited to join Michael Floyd at last month’s NFL Draft, especially after hearing what the former Notre Dame star had to say just after being selected 13th overall by the Arizona Cardinals.

    “He gave me a big hug,” says Johnson, who has trained Floyd in his hometown of St. Paul, Minn., dating back to the end of Floyd’s high school days.

    “He said, ‘You were the one. You planted that seed and you let me know that was real. I just want to thank you for it and I love you.’ I didn’t even know what to say.”

    But Johnson is even more excited about accepting Floyd’s invitation to the University of Notre Dame’s commencement ceremony next weekend.

    “I could care less about football as much as I care that Mike graduated from Notre Dame in three and a half years,” says Johnson, the owner of Performance Athletix.

    “I told him that is the standard I wanted to hold him to because football comes and goes. That’s the thing I’m most proud of. I feel good, but I’m more happy for the kid who is now a man because he was committed to a process. With young African-American males, there’s not always a road map.”

    It was a long road to this weekend’s graduation ceremony and to the podium in New York City that stretches back years.

    As a Minnesota prep star, Floyd followed the lead of several other area standouts and started working with Johnson shortly after finishing his senior season of basketball at Cretin-Derham Hall.

    “Just like a lot of young guys, they don’t really have any idea what it takes,” Johnson remembers. “They don’t really have that perspective. The one thing that I tried to tell him, ‘You need to deplete all of the ATP out of your muscles to force your body to create more.’ In that process, your second wind kicks.”

    It took some time for Johnson to get that across to Floyd, but not much.

    Floyd was in “terrible condition” when he started working with Johnson, according to the trainer. Floyd left his first performance day without speaking a word to Johnson. When the trainer called to check on him later that night, Floyd’s mother said he’d gone to bed earlier than he had in years.

    By the end of that first week, though, things had changed.

    Floyd finished the week by running 12 400-meter dashes in less than 30 minutes. Johnson thought those numbers were borderline impossible and they led him to wonder if he needed to rethink his entire scientific approach.

    “The fact that Mike could complete it with such ease made me question our entire process from start to finish,” says Johnson. “I thought maybe I should start from scratch and create something new, but Mike is what he is, and no one has come close to achieving what he did, so all is right with the protocol. Mike is just that good and then some.”

    Prior to Floyd’s departure for South Bend as a freshman, Johnson did his best to make sure Floyd understood what he was getting into. In the months before leaving Minnesota, Floyd packed on 20 pounds while losing two percent body fat, but the biggest impact may have come through Johnson’s words.

    “I was honest,” says the trainer. “I said, ‘Listen, they’re going to try to kill you.’”

    But like everyone else, Floyd wasn’t completely prepared for the real thing until he experienced it for himself.

    “I’ll never forget after his first practice, he called me,” laughs Johnson. “A kid had hit him five or six yards out of bounds and right then and there, the switch had flipped and he knew.

    “You can watch whatever you want to watch on TV, but until you’re there in the heat of battle, I don’t think you necessarily find out what you’re made of. He found out what he was made of. He said, ‘Hey, this is the real deal. No matter what I’ve accomplished up to this point, Army All-American and all of that, all of that stuff is out of the window.’ That was when the switch had flipped and he was going to let everybody have it.”

    Floyd let the college football world have it for four years, but even after a dazzling, record-breaking career at Notre Dame, there were still questions about Floyd’s speed heading into the NFL Draft. Floyd answered all of those inquires, blazing a 4.42 at the Draft Combine in Indianapolis in February.

    If Johnson was surprised by the time, it was that it wasn’t even lower.

    “To be honest with you, Mike’s a lot faster than that,” Johnson says. “He’s a sub-4.4 guy all day long.”

    With his size, Floyd doesn’t look like a sub-4.4 guy. “That’s the thing a lot of people don’t understand when they think about running,” the trainer explains.

    Johnson points to Usain Bolt, who at 6-foot-5 is the tallest world-class sprinter in history.

    “On paper, he’s the slowest starter to be a world-record holder,” Johnson says of the Jamaican sprinter. “Shorter guys start quicker because they’re at an advantage.

    “If you think about Mike’s foot-to-toe ratio and his shoulder-to-hip ratio, his legs are so much more pronounced in terms of their length with regard to his torso, visually he’s not going to look as fast or as quick as someone whose ratio is a lot lower. But his performance, because of how strong he is, is going to be equal or better.”

    Johnson was confident Floyd would post a great number because of the way they prepared. Every year, Floyd would go through a running and aerobic sprint test, which called for six 40-yard dashes back to back with 10-second breaks in between.

    Floyd hated the test, according to Johnson, but it measured the drop-off rate and allowed the trainer to determine various factors including acceleration and power and which components needed work.

    Johnson also found ways to keep Floyd humble.

    “When I would always test Michael, we ran on turf and I always tested him in football shoes, no track shoes,” he says. “I never did anything to pad Mike’s ego with regard to giving him false confidence.”

    Johnson also made sure he didn’t do anything to hinder Floyd’s natural running style.

    “When you watch Mike run, his right arm swings perfectly,” says Johnson. “It’s immaculate, it swings up and down. His left arm does not. It’s kind of crazy. It comes across his body in a weird way. Most people overanalyze and over-coach the 40.

    “One thing I recognized about Mike is it didn’t work against him from a technique standpoint, so I was going to leave well enough alone and just let him run as natural as possible. I understand to get the greatest level of sprint performance, especially in such a short dash, you need the athlete to be as relaxed as they can possibly be.”

    Johnson visited Floyd for numerous games during his Irish career, but says Floyd never talked about his on-the-field exploits or touchdowns or big plays.

    “He was always committed to the process, every single day,” says Johnson. “That is the thing I take the most joy from.

    “Even when it came to the speculation about where he was going to be picked, it was never part of the conversation. He didn’t care. At the end of the day, it was an honor and a privilege to be there. He respected the opportunity and he was going to accept whatever challenge was put in front of him. It’s such a breath of fresh air to see that there’s no moment that’s too big for him. I can’t tell you how much joy it is to see a guy who accepts whatever is in front of him and go for it.”

    While next weekend’s trip to South Bend will be the last to see Floyd, he’ll surely be visiting again in the years to come as his next prodigy, 2013 Notre Dame receiver commitment James Onwualu, is set to start his career with the Irish next year.

  • Jaylon Smith visiting tomorrow, yet again, with his father...
    A buddy of mine retweeted a Jaylon Smith quote where he said he is visiting tomorrow. I am hesitant to say so but a LOT of pundits seem to think we have edged in front of Ohio State (if we land JS that cuts OSU's edge to 9-8 in recruits we have both offered...Jaylon is probably the best of them all IMO). That's still a big "if", he surely isn't a lock. Unfortunately he did qualify his tweet by saying his dad HAD been with him to OSU but not ND. If this kid isn't a consensus 5* when all is said and done then I'll be shocked.

  • Looking forward to the smash mouth football
    First, I am really excited about the incoming group of offensive lineman that we have committed so far, they are huge athletic looking players that will add to the solid group that we already have.

    Also, with the teams like Stanford, MSU, and Michigan that are already great running teams or in Michigans case becoming a great smash mouth team, we are going to have some great matchups in the future. Just look at Stanford's o-line recruiting class from last year and Michigan's class this year.

    With our new emphasis on the run, these will become some great old-fashioned games. And with our defensive line that we have now, we are going to hve some great match ups to look forward to.

  • I thought Kelly was recruiting lineman that fit the spread? Wasn't one of the complaints with the line is that he needed to recruit a certain type to play the spread?

  • What the hell are you all talking about? Kelly has done great with running the football. Do you just imagine whatever it is you want to believe? ND hasn't ran the ball this well since the Holtz years. Wood ran very well and had a high avg. rush/yd. We all know how Jonas Gray turned it on and became a force. Running the ball isn't what we need to be concerned with. Passing is what has killed ND so far. If Kelly can find someone to make the occasional big play AND not turn the ball over, we will find ND making a run toward a BCS game, even with this year's schedule. The talent is there, hopefully one of the QBs is capable of turning the light switch on just as Jonas Gray did last season.

    I thought everyone knew this. I guess all reasoning goes to the shit*er when ND loses. Even though 8-5 in a coaches second season (after more than two decades of turmoil) is a record everyone should be proud of and happy with. It amazes me to see all the high and mighty people are here calling for the coaches head after a winning season that displayed a Notre Dame program capable of beating any team in the nation (except possibly Alabama) on any given day. Kelly will have the boys ready this year and all the pessimistic morons that some so-called ND fans proclaim themselves as will possibly join the bandwagon.

    There's a reason why ND is one of the toughest jobs in the country. The fans are as unrealistic and unreasonably hot-headed as any other lame-duck fan-base in the world. We can't even support a 1st or 2nd year coach after two back-to-back successful seasons. Unbelievable...