Notre Dame’s Michael Floyd heads to Cardinals, Illinois’ Whitney Mercilus to Texans
BY TINA AKOURIS firstname.lastname@example.org April 26, 2012 11:22PM
Updated: May 28, 2012 9:13AM
Michael Floyd officially has put his troubles behind him.
The 6-2, 220-pound Notre Dame wide receiver was suspended in March 2011 after he was arrested for a DUI, his third alcohol-related offense in two years. A year later, he became an Arizona Cardinal with the 13th pick in the NFL draft.
“I just basically told [Cardinals management] it was a bad decision,” Floyd said. “I learned from it, and I moved on. I know I can’t be like every other college student, just doing what a college student does, because the spotlight is on me. They wanted to see if I had improvements since that time, and I have.”
Floyd ended his Irish career with a school-record 17 100-yard games. He finished his senior season with 100 catches for 1,147 yards and nine touchdowns.
Floyd’s teammate, 6-2, 214-pound safety Harrison Smith, was drafted by the Minnesota Vikings with the 29th pick.
Illinois defensive end Whitney Mercilus wasn’t taken until the Houston Texans selected him with the 26th pick.
The 6-4, 265-pound Mercilus declared for the draft after his junior year, having started just one season for the Illini. Mercilus led the nation in sacks (16), sacks per game (1.23) and forced fumbles (nine).
“I got nervous when I fell below No. 19 with the Bears pick,” Mercilus said. “I was thinking, ‘Where was I going to land?’ I was hoping I wouldn’t drop out of the draft on the first day.”
Illini wide receiver A.J. Jenkins was taken by the San Francisco 49ers with the 30th pick. Jenkins and Mercilus became the first Illini duo to be taken in the first round since 1996, when linebackers Kevin Hardy (No. 2 by the Jacksonville Jaguars) and Simeon Rice (No. 3 by the Arizona Cardinals) were first-round selections.
Jenkins and Mercilus give the Illini five first-round draft picks since 2008, but Jenkins thought he wouldn’t go until the second round.
“My agent told me I would be a late first-round pick or early second round,” Jenkins said. “I was caught off-guard, and my cousin handed me the phone and it was crazy. I was just watching the draft and chilling with my family when my name was called.”