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When experts weigh the merits of college football coaches they frequently point to two skills: his ability to recruit, and his knowledge of the “x’s and o’s.”But there’s nothing more frustrating than spending months recruiting a coveted prospect, years coaching him to achieve success, and autumns gameplanning to capitalise on that success, only to watch the young man forgo years of eligibility for NFL riches.
Convincing them to stay though, can be the difference between the BCS and a nondescript mid-December Bowl game for some major programs. Not only are these draft-eligible players highly skilled, but they also lend continuity to a program, and help groom underclassmen to eventually fill their shoes.
Perhaps no major program had a junior more important to its success than Notre Dame did in wideout Michael Floyd.
A holdover from the Charlie Weis era, Floyd caught 79 passes for 1025 yards and 12 TDs under new coach Brian Kelly despite hauling passes from two different quarterbacks that had never started a game entering 2010.
Notre Dame enters 2011 with a top defence, and a BCS appearance is certainly within reach. But Kelly must choose a starter from a stable of young quarterbacks, all of whom could use the big, dependable target Floyd has become over the last three seasons. He would make the Irish a legitimate contender.
While many speculated that the financially insecure Floyd would bolt Notre Dame – and he appeared to be strongly leaning in that direction – Kelly swayed him to return. An excellent post over at NBCSports.com recounts Kelly’s process in great detail.
So while Mack Brown gets another star recruiting class, and Chip Kelly is lauded for his ingenious gameplan, Brian Kelly’s ability to keep the gamebreaking wideout in gold and navy, could be the key to an Irish resurgence.
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