The first play on new Texas Longhorns linebacker commit De’Gabriel Floyd’s junior highlight reel provides a good glimpse of his physicality and bad intentions — coming on a blitz, he levels the opposing running back and then sacks the quarterback.
The rest of it shows of his elite versatility and ability to make a game-changing impact at multiple positions. So Floyd’s pledge on Saturday was a monster addition to the 2019 class because he can do so many things on the football field, which showcases not only his athleticism, but also his ability to understand scheme on both sides of the ball.
A player tasked with playing so many positions also has to have a high-level football IQ.
Punt returns? Yup, Floyd can do that, showing better speed in pads than his testing numbers at Nike event when he ran a 4.78 40-yard dash last year. And some change-of-direction ability, too. In that area, Floyd tested better, running a 4.31 shuttle that is a strong time for someone over 225 pounds.
Arguably the best measure of his athleticism was his 35.6-inch vertical leap, which is elite for his weight.
Wide receiver? Yup, Floyd can do that because he can get in and out of his breaks, run through arm tackles, and high-point the football. He even straight ran by cornerbacks at times. He can stem and weave defenders and make contested catches. Someone got hurdled, too. Rest in peace, young man. Dylan Haines knows your pain.
Wildcat quarterback? Yup, Floyd took some direct snaps last season for Westlake Village and flashed some patience, vision, and burst at that position. With his size and strength, he’s tough for high school defenders to bring down on first contact when he keeps churning his feet.
Even when things go bad, Floyd can make sure they end up going right — on one snap, he either turned the wrong way to hand the ball or the running back went the wrong way. Didn’t matter, as Floyd just recovered quickly and ran for the touchdown anyway.
And yes, he can even throw the ball a little bit, though his first pass on film was a little bit underthrown. No matter — the second pass was a perfect back-shoulder throw to the front pylon against good coverage.
How about safety? Yup, Floyd can do that, too, translating those ball skills from his time at wide receiver to the defensive side of the ball. With his speed, he can run the alley in run support and even showed some ability to read and quickly recognize routes by opposing wide receivers.
Cornerback? Yup, there’s even evidence of Floyd playing there, too. He was able to get out of his backpedal and break up the pass in off coverage, because of course he did. Press coverage even? Why would anyone doubt him at this point? He stuck on that wide receiver like flypaper.
And, of course, he can play linebacker, too. The first play on his junior film wasn’t the only time that he blew up an opposing player while coming downhill — Floyd packs an impressive punch for someone still in high school. He shows good instincts filling against the run and clearly knows how to play in space based on his success at safety and cornerback.
The one area where Floyd could stand to improve is in consistently wrapping up after sinking his hips and bringing his feet on tackles. However, Floyd is a natural and willing striker and shows the flexibility to sink and explode through opponents. He’ll get better in that regard.
One intriguing element of Floyd’s versatility is that it means he could play B-backer in the Lightning package for Texas — he a little bit bigger than Jason Hall, but can do many of the same things. Suffice it to say that defensive coordinator Todd Orlando will have plenty of options when he starts figuring out how to most successfully deploy Floyd in burnt orange and white.
Floyd deserves his rankings as the No. 40 player nationally and the No. 3 outside linebacker, yet his value is also higher than those rankings would suggest because he can do so many things so well on the football field.
Nice work closing on this one, Coach Orlando. Floyd is a stud.