Sam Webb: I don’t know of any other guy who had his family at every game…every single game; Nebraska, Wisconsin, the bowl games, you look up and you saw the Floyd’s rolling extremely deep. Joining us right now to reflect upon his career and look ahead to hopefully what is a professional endeavor as well is James Thomas Floyd III. J.T., how are you doing?
J.T. Floyd: “I’m doing well. How about yourself? How is Ann Arbor treating you?”
Sam Webb: Very, very well. Glad to catch up with you and to hear how things are going with you. Where are you working out right now?
J.T. Floyd: “I’m at Scottsdale, AZ at this training facility called PEP ran by Ian Danney.”
Sam Webb: You’re obviously preparing for the pro day coming up. Before we talk about that J.T., let us back up and look at your career at Michigan. Obviously you come to Michigan in 2008, you spurn schools like Tennessee, Maryland. You turned those schools down and come to Michigan and obviously have a very productive career. Just kind of reflect on how things went for you in Ann Arbor.
J.T. Floyd: “Things went extremely well. I enjoyed every moment of it from beginning to end. It was a new experience that I will always take away with me. I ended up with my degree, graduated, it was a great experience. I wouldn’t take anything back. It was the best time of my life from start to finish from 2008 to 2012, I enjoyed every moment.”
Sam Webb: I’ve talked to your dad a lot over the years. Your family was extremely supportive. It is often the case when a player comes that far away from home, he is not really going to see his family that often. You saw your family every week during the season, how big was that for you?
J.T. Floyd: “It was huge. It was huge having that family support each and every game. It almost felt like high school. They followed me and supported me, everything I did. My family has always been there for me and they have been there supporting me. So it was a big plus, made it a lot easier to play. Wherever I went, I knew I could just look up into the stands and I knew somebody there was from back home and was just there to support me.”
Sam Webb: Did any of your teammates have their family at every single game like you did?
J.T. Floyd: “Maybe not every single one, but I knew for a fact that my dad was not playing. He was at each one. He was there early. He was there well before kickoff. It was almost like he was warming up with me out there.”
Sam Webb: You put yourself in a position to be a fixture in the lineup whether it be starting or backing up going all the way back to early in your career. There were times of adversity as a player, times of adversity off the field, just talk about how you were able to weather all of those storms to get to where you are today.
J.T. Floyd: “Anything you go through, negative or positive, a swamp person always learns from mistakes and learns from other peoples good deeds as well. So you decide to emulate those things and that is just stuff that on the football field, I just learned to experience. The beginning of my career did not start out exactly how everyone would have storybook written it. I was a young guy sort of thrown into the fire, but I gained a lot of experience throughout the years and each and every year you could just see my game sort of progress and I got better and better. Then when coach Mattison and coach Hoke came in and just being under their tutelage, it just sort of took my game to the next level.”
Sam Webb: We saw the heartfelt letter that you wrote to all the fans. That was huge, I know that was huge reaching out to them… but what about the people supporting you… how big were they in helping you get through everything at the end of the year?
J.T. Floyd: “Honestly, I can’t say enough about them. Those are my family and coaches; those are people who stood by me. Like I said, they have been in my corner since day one and they always believed in me. They understand that sometimes young people make mistakes and the biggest thing for me was to make sure that I learned from my mistakes and make sure that I grew from everything. Ultimately, I became a better person, a better father, a better teammate. It is a period of growth. I just turned 23 years old, so I am still a young guy. I’m just a guy who still trying to mold into the person that I need to become.”
Sam Webb: Now you are preparing for an opportunity to play in the big show. Down there at PEP you work on everything. Take us through a typical training day down there in Arizona with the things that they have you doing.
J.T. Floyd: “We’ll start off around 9 o’clock and I’ll go there and most of the time I’ll do the hydrotherapy, hot and cold tubs just to get my legs revitalized and warmed up for the day. I might do a session in the sauna with stretching before that and this is all pre-workout stuff. Then we’ll actually go into our main workout and say like a Monday; we’ll go in probably 11 to 11:30 and then we’ll train, especially early on when we’re trying to get our explosion and get the strength and just work on all the technique things about running. We will start around 11:30, maybe finish around three o’clock and then three o’clock we’ll do a cool down, which is another stretch. A lot of times depending on the day we will have a deep tissue massage. We have somebody on staff that is here all the time for us to sort of give us a deep tissue massage and just take care of your body. That is something I’ve learned coming down here, just the importance of really taking care of your body. Being around people such as Tim Tebow and Lamar Woodley is down here training. Being around people like Rod Hood, another corner that played at Philadelphia for a while. Just being around those veterans who have that experience and the longevity in the game. One of the biggest things they talk about is taking care of your body.”
Sam Webb: How long have you been down here?
J.T. Floyd: “I’ve been down here since December, right before Christmas, December 23, I want to say.”
Sam Webb: How much stronger, how much faster have you gotten since the time that you’ve been down there?
J.T. Floyd: “It has been night and day. Just focusing on you as a player and a lot of times when you go to these facilities you get a chance to work on what you need as an individual athlete, as an individual player to get better. You enhance your strength and you work on your weakness to make them your strength. That is just what I have been able to do down here. I’ve been down here working a lot on my upper body strength, my technique when I’m running, my hips, my core, getting my core stronger, along with everything else. As far as ball skills or DBs skills, you name it and we’re sort of touching on it. Just making sure that everything is crisp for March 14.”
Sam Webb: Give me the scouting report on J.T. Floyd that maybe teams are going to have as they head into pro day. What are your strengths and what are the things that they were saying were weaknesses that you have improved upon while you have been down there?
J.T. Floyd: “I would say definitely my strengths would be the knowledge of the game, the instincts. I believe I have very good ball skills. I used to play receiver in high school. My teammates and coaches always used to give me a little flak, because I always used to love jumping on the receiver side of things and running some routes what they were doing in the summer. Sometimes we would do shell drills in practice and I would be quick to jump over to receiver, so I’m excited to show my ball skills and show my movement and just show them I move like a corner, I move like a DB. Some of my weaknesses would be just making sure I am consistent with everything. As far as on the field just showing my consistent backpedal, I’m staying lower. In all my drills, I’m making sure that I’m staying low. I’m explosive coming out of my backpedal. I’m just anxious really just to show them the type of athlete that I truly am and I how I’ve evolved since I’ve been at Michigan.”
Sam Webb: I’d be remiss if I didn’t ask you about what you’re leaving behind in Ann Arbor and the program. Tell me what you see in the defensive backfield coming back for Michigan and then we know about Jeremy Gallon, but what about some of the young receivers that are coming back for Michigan, what should we expect to see from them?
J.T. Floyd: “Big things to be honest. I honestly believe that our team is only going to continue to get better each and every year. The guys are getting closer and closer. Michigan is a family and it has been a family…since I have been down here I still stay in touch, I talked to Denard (Robinson) the other day, I talked to (Roy) Roundtree, Elliot Mealer, Patrick Omameh. I even talk to Courtney Avery, guys still on the team, Jeremy Gallon, Devin Gardner. One of my things that I will really always take away and I hope Michigan continues is just a family atmosphere that it has and I know it will because coach Hoke that is what he implemented. As far as the defensive backfield goes, I think Thomas Gordon is going to have a phenomenal year. He is a guy who knows the system just as well as Jordan Kovacs did. He is a guy that is going to make sure that everyone is going to get lined up and make sure everything…pre-snap, he is going to make sure that everybody is communicating well. I look for him to really be a leader back there. Courtney Avery, he is another guy, a senior, he knows the defense like the back of his hand. This will be his third year in the system. So anytime you get guys that are familiar with the system and the more experienced that you have with the system you should see improved play and I definitely think along with Courtney Avery, Thomas Gordon, Ramon (Taylor) and Blake (Countess); I honestly believe those guys are ready to get the job done back there.”
Sam Webb: On the receiver side of things, everyone knows about Jeremy Gallon but what about some of the younger guys like Amara (Darboh) and (Jehu) Chesson?
J.T. Floyd: “When you spoke of receivers those are the first two that popped into my head. Amara really did not get to play too much last year. He was more of a special teams guy, but he is a guy that is big, strong, physical guy. He’ll go up and get the ball and he’ll make sure that he gets those tough catches. His body type, it reminds me a little bit of Jason Avant. I remember watching him on film when I was in school and he reminds me a little bit of Jason Avant. Jehu is a guy that is going to stretch the field. He is a long strider, so when he picks them up and puts them down you look up and he is already 40-50 yards down the field. He is a guy that I think is going to be able to stretch defenses vertically a little bit. He is another guy if he just keeps working and stays on top of it like I know he will, then I think the sky is the limit for both of them.”