When UTSA’s kicker Hunter Duplessis sent the opening kickoff down the field this past Saturday, it started the 85th season of Arizona State football. It also began the Herm Edwards era for the Sun Devils. Isaiah Floyd, the man who returned the kickoff, also got his career in maroon and gold underway.
“It was a great experience. My first game in the Pac-12. I started off pretty good, still have a lot of work to do – got to keep working hard,” Floyd said about the season opener. “Overall, we had a good game. All credit to UTSA, got Michigan State coming up. The coaches did a great job of game planning. We just got to keep moving forward from here.”
Floyd, a redshirt sophomore that transferred to Arizona State from City College of San Francisco in the spring, has found a spot within the Sun Devils very quickly. He’s earned starting duties on special teams returning kickoffs and punts.
Coach Edwards in his Monday press conference talked about how the 5’7” back was different and why he brought him to Tempe.
“Well I think that we have a unit of players that have some unique talents. He was one. I said when we decided to offer him a scholarship he was a little bit of the exception to the rule as far as his DNA at the position he played because there is a certain height, weight, speed all those things that go in,” he said. “If you look at his body type it wouldn’t fit the DNA but there’s always the exception to the rule. We said that when we decided to offer him a scholarship. We’re so glad that he decided to take it. You guys watched him. He’s got some talent.”
Floyd, himself, pointed to one thing that makes him disparate from guys that might fit the ‘DNA,” that Edwards spoke about.
“I’d say my heart. When you believe you can do anything you want to, you put the work in and keep working hard,” he said. “And you got people behind you that helps you with that, anything is possible.”
Of course, Sun Devil fans know all about players with heart with quarterback Manny Wilkins around. Wilkins and Floyd had a pretty fun moment on Saturday. After Floyd scored his touchdown in the fourth quarter he walked back to the sideline, where Wilkins lifted him into the air.
When asked about the celebration and if it was planned, Floyd’s faced filled with a smile and he started to talk through a hard laugh.
“Nah, he was just excited for me because all the hard work that we’ve been putting in to practice and everything, it’s all paying off,” He said. Floyd then continued about his teammate. “That’s my guy. Manny is a great quarterback. He’s a great leader. He holds this team together.”
Floyd has also become the guy behind Eno Benjamin. After a fall where there were plenty of question marks of who would fill in the backup job from the plethora of the young backs who came in. Floyd showcased his speed and shiftiness to the entirety of the ASU faithful on Saturday for the first time.
He and Benjamin wasted no time in attempting to fill the void left behind from Kalen Ballage and Demario Richard. The two combined for 210 yards, averaged over nine yards per carry and each scored a touchdown against the Roadrunners.
Floyd commented on why he thought the two complimented each other so well:
“I just think we’re two great running backs. We each have every unique skill sets. When we’re rotating and we’re putting that together we’re a dangerous combo,” he said.
A lot of Floyd’s game still hasn’t been seen as he did not catch a pass in the victory over UTSA, but there’s plenty of season left to see that. Running back coach John Simon will most definitely put his guys in the best position to succeed. And Floyd had plenty to say about his position coach.
“Coach Simon is a great coach. He stays on top of you. He makes sure he credits you on the positive, but he makes you work hard on the negative, stuff you need to work on because you’re your best enemy,” Floyd said. “He does a great job of making us work on the things we need to work on. Watching film, getting the extra time in after practice, before practice just working on techniques and everything.”
It’s only been one game of course, but Floyd looks to have the making of being a weapon, a tool and a difference maker for the Sun Devils for years to come.