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Early riser


While Cretin-Derham Hall (St. Paul, Minn.) head football coach Mike Scanlan held throwing sessions three days a week this past summer from 7:30-8:30 a.m., there was one particular instance he'll always remember.

It happened at a practice on July 27, when Scanlan was getting his players prepped for the morning's activities. About 10 minutes before practice, senior wide receiver Michael Floyd, who gave a verbal commitment to Notre Dame last week, rolled up on his bike with just enough time to stretch.

Though that doesn't seem like anything special, Floyd had just arrived back in Minnesota at 1 a.m. from Las Vegas, where he had played in an AAU basketball tournament all week. He didn't fall asleep until an hour later and ended up oversleeping his alarm, which caused him to miss the bus.

Floyd could have easily just rolled back over to get some much-needed shut eye, but he instead grabbed his bike and pedaled what normally would be a 35-minute ride from his house in 20 minutes.

Even after going through a grueling practice on just five hours of sleep, Floyd found time to get an hour and a half of weightlifting in afterward.

"We didn't even know when he was getting in," says Scanlan, who's in his third year as head coach of the Raiders and 22nd overall at Cretin-Derham. "Then there he was riding in on his bike. The mentality to do something like that is kind of rare. But to me, that's what Michael is all about. He really loves football and doesn't want to let his team down."

Floyd's appearance at practice was important in Scanlan's eyes because it showed the younger Cretin-Derham players you have to put in work to be elite. But for Scanlan's standout captain, it was just another day at the office.

"If I want people to come to the sessions, I have to show the leadership to be able to make it," says Floyd. "At Cretin-Derham, there are a lot of competitive people. If you don't work to be the best, someone can take your place. I don't want anybody to be better than me."

Luckily for Floyd, there have been few players better than him the past two years. Rated the state's No. 1 recruit and the nation's No. 27 player in the Class of 2008 by RISE, the 6-foot-3, 205-pounder is so talented Scanlan thinks he might go down as the best athlete in school history.

That's a scary thought considering players like Joe Mauer and Paul Molitor have walked the halls of Cretin-Derham. Before Mauer was an All-Star catcher with the Twins, he was the USA Today National Player of the Year in both football and baseball as a senior at Cretin-Derham in 2000-01. Molitor, meanwhile, is in the Baseball Hall of Fame.

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If that's not enough pressure to live up to, Floyd has also been compared to Arizona Cardinals Pro Bowl wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald, who starred at Academy of Holy Angels.

"They are all great athletes," says Floyd. "What they've done is a goal for me. Just to be in that category is nice."

Floyd doesn't get caught up in the hype, however. When asked to recall a special touchdown catch, he instead brings up the most embarrassing moment of his career, which came against Hastings in his first-ever varsity game as a sophomore. Floyd caught a 10-yard out for his first varsity reception and had a clear path to the end zone. But he only had one hand on the ball, and it popped loose as he swung his arms. Hastings promptly recovered the fumble.

Floyd faced his punishment at the end of the very next practice. Carrying a football under each arm and starting from one goal line, Floyd sprinted every five yards and then back until he reached the opposite goal line. Needless to say, Floyd learned his lesson. And to this day, the team doesn't let him forget it.

"I was so mad at myself," says Floyd, who was considering colleges like Notre Dame, Ohio State, Michigan, Iowa, Minnesota, Florida and Wisconsin at press time. "They still play that one over and over."

After the brief hiccup against Hastings, Floyd proceeded to torch opposing defensive backs his sophomore season to the tune of 24 receptions for 757 yards and eight touchdowns. That's a whopping 31.5 yards per catch if you're doing the math. Those numbers helped lead the Raiders to the Class AAAAA state final, where they fell to Wayzata, 28-24, to finish the season 10-3.

Last year, Floyd improved to 63 receptions for 1,240 yards and 16 touchdowns as Cretin-Derham advanced to the section finals before losing to Lakeville South, 22-21. Floyd, who also ran for 246 yards and three scores, was named Gatorade State Player of the Year and was selected to the USA Today All-USA second team. Floyd is able to beat opposing defenses in a variety of ways with his tremendous strength (265-pound bench press), speed (4.48 40-yard dash) and athleticism (39-inch vertical). And true to his team-first attitude, he's also a good run blocker.

"He gets off the ball very well and can be very physical and hold his own," says Scanlan. "Some of the teams tried to play him in a normal scheme, and I don't think you can do that. You've got to send two or three guys at him. If there's someone out there who can play him one on one, more power to him. I think he can walk into college programs right now and make an impact."

While Floyd could excel on just natural talent alone, he's an absolute monster when it comes to working out. He spends four days per week pumping iron and two days either running stairs, 40-yard dashes or long distances for endurance. Floyd puts in all this work in order to reach his lofty goals.

"My dream is to someday make it to the NFL, and hopefully it comes true," says Floyd.

Even if he has to ride his bike to get there.