SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Michael Floyd insists he's tuned out the criticism of his troubled past. Instead, he's putting his emphasis on football, school and making better decisions.
Floyd, a senior who has caught more TD passes than any player in school history, was reinstated to the team earlier this month. He had been suspended by coach Brian Kelly after he was arrested for drunken driving in March.
Floyd said being away from the team and seeing what he almost let slip away helped him to mature. It was his third alcohol-related brush with the law in two years.
"After decision making like that you see what is in front of you, what you could lose in life," Floyd said Tuesday at the Irish's media day. "It made me realize I got to watch out for what I do."
Kelly was convinced Floyd had changed. The school disciplinary committee didn't suspend him, so Floyd got another chance to stay in school and eventually to play football again.
Kelly said it's not a topic of daily discussion.
"I don't think you forget about it. You don't just throw it under the rug," Kelly said. "But you don't spend time every day gnashing your teeth: 'Michael Floyd, what did you do to us?' It's past that in that sense. But he's got to do the right things every day, and I think he has."
Some have suggested Floyd's prowess on the field is one reason he got another opportunity. He has the school record for TD passes (28) and if he stays healthy will also be the career leader in total receptions and passing yards.
Floyd said he doesn't have time to pay attention to the negative publicity.
"The past is the past. I'm moving forward, not even thinking about that. Just moving forward from there," he said.
Floyd helped the Irish finish 8-5 a year ago with 79 catches and 12 touchdowns. Notre Dame finished the season with four straight victories, including a win over Miami in the Sun Bowl.
Floyd's presence make the Irish's spread offense even more versatile. Who'll be throwing him the passes, however, is still to be answered.
Crist, whose last two seasons have been ended prematurely by knee injuries, has the stronger arm and Rees, who led the season-ending win streak as a freshman a year ago, has the quicker release.
Kelly said his starter has to have complete mastery of the offense and the ability to put the Irish in the right sets and get the ball to the playmakers like Floyd, slot receiver Theo Riddick or running back Cierre Wood.
And they have to protect the football. Nothing irritates the second-year coach more than an interception from a bad read.
"So it's more than just arm strength; it's more than just leadership capabilities," Kelly said.
Crist and Rees have a comfortable and close relationship. Next week, one of them will get the nod, and Crist acknowledged that being No. 2 would not be easy for either one of them.
"I look at Tommy as my little brother. We are constantly pushing each other to get better and we are both guys that will do whatever it takes to make the team better," Crist said. "At the end of the day, we understand the competition dynamic and we understand there is only one starting quarterback for Notre Dame."
Kelly said freshman defensive back Eilar Hardy has a knee injury and will have surgery, meaning he will be lost for the season. Backup offensive lineman Tate Nichols is making progress from a dislocated knee but is not expected to play against South Florida. Tight end Mike Ragone has a quad strain.