"It was amazing," Sharrif Floyd said about his return. "Words can't even describe it. I'm just happy and grateful to be back with my team."
It was a two-week road to return, but it felt longer than that.
Floyd found out just two-and-a-half hours before Florida's season opener against FAU that he wouldn't be allowed to play. It's an issue that he originally brought to the attention of the Florida compliance office in February, but they were held at the mercy of the NCAA.
Floyd elected to bring it to their attention after he saw one of his friends being investigated who went through a similar situation before reaching college. Floyd thought it would be smart to play it safe and bring it to the attention of the compliance office.
"I felt the need to come to our compliance office and tell them everything I've been through and help them to understand my story," Floyd said. "They told me nothing was wrong, so I had no worries. Then it popped up that things needed to be done. I just took it like a man and did what I had to do to get back on the field."
It didn't seem like it would be a big issues, but the investigation drug on without an answer. That's when Floyd sat out the first game of the season because Florida didn't want to risk potentially having to forfeit the game.
When the NCAA ruled that Floyd would be forced to sit out the first two games, Florida head coach Will Muschamp issued a passionate statement, ridiculing the NCAA for their decision. It drew the team closer together and helped them realize how much Muschamp cares about the players.
"I love Coach Muschamp and the whole staff," Floyd said. "When that happened, our bond just got closer because he understands my situation and the type of person I am. I love all the coaches for how they approached it."
The support didn't end with the Florida coaching staff. Muschamp has said multiple times that Floyd is one of the most respected players in the Florida locker room. The players rallied around him and dedicated the second game of the season against UAB to Floyd, who was forced to watch again from the sidelines.
"It just showed me how much I mean to the team and how much the team loves me," Floyd said. "I love all of those guys and I'd do anything for any of them—walk-ons, too. It was pretty touching."
The offseason wasn't kind to college football. Investigations began at multiple major programs across the country. Whether it was receiving tattoos for autographs or boosters giving benefits to players, multiple programs were in trouble in the offseason and college athletes were put in a negative light.
Muschamp made clear in his statement that Floyd is not that type of player. Despite what the suspension may look like to those who follow the situation closely, Floyd wants to make clear the kind of person he is.
"I don't feel like I'm grouped in with other players that have done those things," Floyd said. "I'm not a bad guy. I stayed positive. I'm always doing the right thing, I go to class, and I have a 3.0 GPA. There's nothing wrong in my profile. I don't think I should be grouped in with those types of athletes because that's not the type of athlete I am."
Once he got onto the field Saturday, Floyd admitted that it took a few snaps for him to get his feet under him. It wasn't an easy return for the sophomore. After playing defensive tackle in 2010, Floyd slid outside to play end to try to provide more of a pass rush.
"I'm at a new position that I need a lot of experience at," Floyd said. "It took me a couple plays to get in the groove and a couple cuts slowed me down. I'm just trying to get pressure off the edge, and it ain't as easy as it looks."
The Gators had three sacks and six quarterback hurries against Tennessee on Saturday. They hit Tyler Bray and helped out a young secondary that needed it. The defensive line found a rallying cry to help the pass rush, and it centers around a dislike of quarterbacks.
"We want to hit the quarterback—the pretty boys," Floyd said. "They're ‘you can't touch me' guys. That's what defensive linemen want. We want quarterbacks."