Florida Gators junior defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd has been a revelation this season now that he is playing in his natural position inside and no longer spending most of his time on the field at defensive end.
A potential first-round pick in the upcoming 2013 NFL Draft (should he decide to end his college career one year early), Floyd is known for being as thoughtful and insightful off the field as he is powerful and dominant on it.
As part of a team appearance at the 2013 Sugar Bowl on Saturday, Floyd answered plenty of questions from the media. Here are seven of them:
Q: With the crazy medical situation [with Neiron Ball], what has that been like for him coming back so strong?
SF: “I feel for him because, in that position, a lot of players would have walked away and said, ‘I’m done,’ because of what he went through. I’m glad to see him back out there. He’s running. He’s back at full speed. He’s getting stronger, getting bigger. It’s just a blessing that he can continue to play football because I’m sure that, when he was in that room, they told him that he might not ever be able to play football again. But he chose to go otherwise. He chose to get back out there and do what he had to do. We congratulated him for coming back.”
Q: Dan Quinn was saying earlier that, maybe as important as anything to the defense this year has been being able to rush with four men up front, get some pressure. How much better has that been, in your view, than the last couple of years?
SF: “This year is the first time that our unit as a D-line was together as one. I feel as though this year we’ve done a great job of doing what we had to do game-plan wise. Where there plays we should have made or could have made? Yeah. That’s with any team. At the end of the day, we’re doing it together and there’s no pointing fingers. We’re just running the plays that our coach calls.”
Q: The second half of the season, the freshmen [Jonathan] Bullard and [Dante] Fowler, do those guys kind of remind you in any way of when you and [Dominique] Easley came in?
SF: “Uh-huh. They got the same type of connection me and Easley did. Their bond is going to grow stronger. That’s just going to be nothing but good things for the defense. The stronger they become together, the better the defense becomes because now they understand each other. They can play off each other even though they’re on different sides of the D-line. There’s just good things that all fall into that. Family pulls people together, and in tough times, you need family.”
Q: When they both showed up on campus [this] year, did you expect them to be able to contribute like they have?
SF: “We was waiting for them before they even got there. We already knew they were going to contribute. It was just a matter of how much were they going to contribute, and they contributed a whole lot this year. Appreciate them for that.”
Q: Jaye Howard in the Senior Bowl last February, even back then he said this year’s team is going to shock the SEC. Did you guys have that kind of confidence that they would be this much of a turnaround in the program?
SF: “We believed it. A lot of other people didn’t, not pointing no fingers. After beating Ohio State in the bowl game last year, we knew that was the start to his year’s season, so that was our focus, that was our motivation. All last year, just going back and watching the film and watching the things we did in games, knowing that’s not us, that’s not how we play. We’re going to change that; we’re going to play how we’re supposed to play. That year was also supposed to look like this year, but you can’t control that. We controlled what we could control tjis year and now we’re sitting here today.”
Q: Omar [Hunter] said a couple minutes ago that the number one reason this defense has improved by 12 points a game is you guys don’t let the bad plays get you down. You bounce right back.
SF: “Coach [Will] Muschamp stressed it all year. ‘Play the next play. Play the next play. Don’t worry about the bad thing you did on the last play. Don’t worry about the good thing you did on the last play. Get your little celebration on and get back on the line and get ready for the next play because that play is done with. It’s over with. It’s in the bag. It’s already on camera. Put a good one on tape.’ It’s just playing the next play or when someone’s down or worrying about the last play, let them know, ‘Hey, play the next play, man. Get off of that. It’s OK. Let’s get them on the next one. It’ll be alright.’”
Q: What’s it been like for you the last couple of years to work under Bryant Young, obviously a guy who knows a little bit about the NFL. What impact has he had on you?
SF: “He had a great impact on me. I sit down and talk to him all the time just about ballin’, sometimes about life. He has six kids. Six. You can learn more from him than just ball. He’s a great guy and really down to earth, and he knows when to play, too. He has a playful side, and we try to bring it out of him. Ask him about the percolator, he knows how to do it. He can dance. Uh-huh. It’s a great experience. Also he’s about to be [inducted] into the hall of fame. You take advantage of those type of guys. You learn as much as you can from them. I pick his brain all the time just to know what he’s thinking. Even if it’s the smallest thing, ‘Coach, in this situation, what would you do?’ Just learning from him and trying to take the game to the next level.”