Dodge County’s Floyd signs with Georgia

mlough@macon.comFebruary 1, 2012 

EASTMAN -- There are almost two Leonard Floyds.

One is the quiet, soft-spoken high school player whose humility wouldn’t allow him to realize how many people knew how good he was.

Floyd was a Dodge County junior whose stock was rising in the world of college football recruiting when he, his mother and Dodge County assistant Ricky Collins were in Athens walking to a Georgia game and passed some tailgaters.

“They said, ‘Hey, Leonard Floyd, you got to come here, you got to come here,’ ” Collins said. “He looked and said, ‘Who’re they talking to, Coach?’ I said, ‘Well, my name ain’t Leonard Floyd.’ ”

Collins looks a little older than 17 and stands nearly a foot shorter than Floyd.

Then there’s the Floyd who those fans had read about, the Floyd who played sideline to sideline, could sack a quarterback on one play and drop into coverage the next, the Floyd who wasn’t so much “yes, sir” and “please” on the field.

“I had to check and make sure he came (Wednesday), because he’s kind of shy,” said Dodge County head coach Rex Hodges, who had only one season with Floyd. “But he’s an intense player, had a little mean streak in him on the field, which is good.

“He led us in tackles, and he played defensive end, and they probably tried to run away from him most of the time. He had a desire to make the tackle.”

Georgia is getting both Floyds.

In a ceremony befitting his bling-free personality, Floyd signed his national letter-of-intent with Georgia on Wednesday morning, in front of less than two dozen people in the Dodge County library.

There was no major production, and no props, unless a Georgia hat counts as a prop.

Floyd sat at a table with family on both sides, had trouble suppressing his smile, signed the papers and patiently took pictures with family, coaches and school administrators.

The last Dodge County player to suit up at Georgia was running back Kalvin Daniels, who went to Georgia as a walk-on in 2007.

Floyd committed in the spring and never wavered.

“The coaching staff and my mom really liked Georgia,” said Floyd, a 6-foot-5, 221-pounder. “And I grew up watching Georgia.”

Floyd liked defensive backs coach Scott Lakatos -- who recruited Floyd -- and defensive coordinator Todd Grantham.

About the only noteworthy item from the signing was Floyd unveiling the back of his head, which displayed Georgia’s “G” logo. Almost as many pictures were taken of the back of Floyd’s head as the front.

It only added to his level of commitment.

Floyd finished his senior season with 124 tackles, 31 for loss and had an interception to go with five touchdown catches at tight end.

Floyd was in eighth grade for Hodges’ last year at Dodge County before he went to Houston County as an assistant and then returned last spring as the head coach.

“He was pretty tall back then, about 6-3, a little bit thinner,” Hodges said of Floyd’s younger days. “We already knew what kind of potential he had.”

Floyd grew a little bit but made serious progress on the field and started popping up on the to-get lists of major programs during his junior season. Hodges finally got a look at the more polished version last spring.

“He had good balance, he was able to get low,” Hodges said. “Even though he’s 6-5, he had good balance and was able to get low, like you look for. He good feet, could play well in space. Was a good tackler, good blocker, could catch the ball.

“He could do a little bit of everything, and do it well.”

Floyd caught five passes for 162 yards in a 47-21 win over East Laurens in 2010, setting what Collins thought was a school record for receiving yards. The next day, Floyd visited with Richt, who asked how Floyd did the night before and Floyd laid the numbers on him.

“Coach said, ‘You serious? Coach Collins, did he?’ ” Collins said. “He said, ‘I might have to talk to old Grantham, and we may have to re-evaluate.’ He was laughing. ‘Might play a little tight end.’ ”

So don’t be surprised if Floyd gets a look on both sides of the ball, especially with Georgia losing tight ends Orson Charles and Aron White.

“We knew we had to get the ball to him, and he wanted it,” Collins said. “He’s just special.”

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