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Football: Cardinals, Vikings take Floyd, Smith in first round

Chris Allen | Friday, April 27, 2012

Two former Notre Dame players joined professional rosters after being selected in the first round of Thursday night’s 2012 NFL Draft, as wide receiver Michael Floyd and safety Harrison Smith became the first Irish teammates to be selected in the first round in the same year since 1994. Floyd was selected No. 13 overall by the Arizona Cardinals and Smith was chosen 16 picks later at No. 29 overall by the Minnesota Vikings.

Floyd became the second wide receiver to be selected in the Draft, held in New York, after his name was called by Arizona. After a record-breaking career in an Irish uniform that included more receptions and receiving touchdowns than anyone in program history, Floyd became the highest-drafted Irish player since standout defensive tackle Bryant Young went No. 7 overall in 1994. The Minnesota-native Floyd returned to Notre Dame after his junior season and led the Irish with 100 receptions and nine touchdown receptions.

“I could not be happier for Michael and his family,” Irish coach Brian Kelly said. “I’ve said many times I have never coached a person as talented as Michael, and his selection tonight shows that. Michael’s work ethic and passion for football are unparalleled, and fans of the Cardinals will love the productivity he’ll bring to Arizona’s offense.”

In Arizona, Floyd will have the opportunity to feature in the same receiving corps as fellow Minnesota native and personal friend Larry Fitzgerald, a six-time Pro Bowler.

“It’s exciting just knowing [Larry is] on the opposite side of me, one of the best receivers in the game,” Floyd said.

Smith, the lone captain of the 2011 Irish, became the highest-drafted Notre Dame defensive player in 15 years when he was tabbed by the Vikings at No. 29 overall. Smith controlled the Notre Dame defensive backfield en route to recording 90 tackles in his senior season. He joins former Irish tight end Kyle Rudolph on the Minnesota roster.

“Harrison Smith is one of the best leaders I’ve ever had on any of my teams,” Kelly said. “He is an intelligent and instinctual player on the field, and a true student of the game off the field.”

The 2012 NFL Draft continues Friday at 7 p.m., with a handful of former Irish players still awaiting selection.

Contact Chris Allen at [email protected]