Courtship of J.T. Floyd

While UT commitment J.T. Floyd of Greenville, S.C., is currently listed as a soft verbal, stealing the talented DB away from the Volunteers will prove a hard task.

Floyd originally committed to Tennessee 11 months ago, or one week into his junior season at J.L. Mann High School. At the time he wasn't a nationally known prospect, but after a standout season followed by an excellent showing at's National Junior Combine he has seen his stock skyrocket, and now holds an array of offers, including ones from Maryland, Michigan, South Carolina and N.C. State. North Carolina and Virginia are also involved.

He currently plans to visit Michigan, Maryland, N.C. State, North Carolina and possibly Miami. That list could change as he gets closer to the start of his senior campaign at which time he hopes to have his list of finalists trimmed to four or five. Plans call for him to have the process completed and his decision finalized by Christmas.

"It's really just to reaffirm," said Floyd's father, who is now screening the prospect's calls. "Me as a parent wanted J.T. to see some other schools because you only get to do this one time. If you get a chance to see the Big House in Michigan you just go see it. Later you can tell about what that was like."

J.T. Floyd may be leveraging his status as one of the nation's best cover safeties, but he's not misleading the schools that are seeking his services.

"This will be the only time for the next four or five years of your life that you'll hold the cards," Mr. Floyd told his soon. "He's had people from Florida contact him, and he said: ‘Pop that's not where I want to be.' He didn't even consider Florida. He told the people down there, don't ya'll recruit me."

It's only natural the Gators would be interested in the 5-foot-11.5, 184-pound athlete who played safety, corner, wide receiver and quarterback last fall. He turned a 4.43 at the Shrine Bowl workouts. In San Antonio he added a 4.29 shuttle and a 33-inch vertical. In seven games as a junior, he caught 25 passes for 480 yards and five touchdowns. He added 50 tackles and five interceptions on defense. describes Floyd as follows: "Floyd has a knack for always being around the ball and making big plays. He shows good instincts and great anticipation. Floyd has good cover skills and is fearless in the middle. He's strong in run support and can cover a lot of ground because of his great speed and reaction time. Offensively he shows excellent hands, body control and concentration. He can make the defender miss or run right by him. Floyd also has good vision and a burst." J.T. is ranked No. 35 by among the nation's safety prospects. He was nominated for the U.S. Army All-American team and named to play in the Carolina Shrine Bowl game. That type of visibility has attracted a lot of suitors, but not every story about his interest in other programs has been accurate.

"He got kind of frustrated because people have said things that just weren't true," his father informed. "Somebody ask him one time about a visit to South Carolina. Hell, it wasn't a visit. What it was is that Tom Lemming was there taking pictures for players in the south and we were there. He had somebody ask him how was your visit to South Carolina? He happened to be there on Junior Day, but nobody said that his high school's girls basketball team was playing in the state championship that same day. That's where we went as soon as the pictures were over with."

While he was in Columbia, J.T. did meet Steve Spurrier that day, but the DB's interest in being a Gamecock appears to be lukewarm at this point, according to his father.

"Coach Spurrier did meet him," Mr. Floyd explained, "but J.T. had his brother graduate from South Carolina and his sisters graduate from South Carolina. He wants his own name. And I don't know that he feels the same way about Coach Spurrier as he does Coach(Phillip) Fulmer. He wants somebody who's going to be like another daddy away from home."

The Floyds' relationship with Coach Fulmer is a critical component to J.T.'s verbal commitment. It also points out the importance of longevity in the recruiting process.

"J.T. had been to a couple of places he really liked but in the end there ain't but one Phillip Fulmer," he said. "I told him you're looking at a place where the coach is going to be there long after you're gone. Some of these other places he doesn't feel that way about. In the end it's going to be his decision, but I don't know that anything will ever change."

Mr. Floyd emphasized that they have been up front with Tennessee about visiting other programs and his status as a Vol commitment hasn't changed.

"It will change if Tennessee tells us it would be best for us to look in another direction, but he hasn't heard that from them," the senior Floyd revealed. "I talked to Coach Fulmer myself. I've talked with Coach Chavis and we got their blessing. Neither one of us have ever been through this and they were like it's okay."

If J.T. does change his mind about signing with Tennessee, Coach Fulmer will be among the very first to know, and it won't be through the newspaper or Internet.

"I told him if he was to ever change his mind to go into Coach Fulmer's office and shake his hand and tell him," Mr. Floyd stated. "That's the way you accepted it (scholarship) and that's the way you have to give it back. You won't give it back over the Internet. You won't give it back to the assistant coaches because you didn't get it that way. He understands that. And I told the guys at Tennessee that until you see our car pull back up there and he asks to meet with Coach Fulmer, it's nothing but speculation. It's not what you heard, it's what you know. To me that's just doing it the manly way."

With that type of direction, J.T. Floyd can't go wrong.

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