Thirteen months ago, Michael Floyd thought he'd blown it, that he'd ruined his dream of going to the NFL.
At 3:18 a.m. on March 20, 2011, the white Cadillac Floyd was driving ran a stop sign a block from the main entrance to the Notre Dame campus. Police who arrested him say he had a 0.19 blood-alcohol level. The legal limit in Indiana is 0.08.
''As soon as I got in trouble,'' Floyd said, ''I thought it was over.''
From that day forward, Floyd said Friday, he vowed to make things right. Nine months after his arrest, he earned his college degree in sociology. He met all the conditions set by coach Brian Kelly for his return to the Fighting Irish team and had a phenomenal senior season, capped when the Arizona Cardinals picked him Thursday night with the 13th overall selection in the NFL draft.
''It was just me personally wanting to change,'' he said. ''I didn't want my image to be a negative one. I wanted it to be positive. I did just everything I can to make sure the image people get of me was a positive one.''
Floyd flew from New York to Arizona on Friday, meeting Cardinals officials, then appearing at a news conference.
''They've given me a chance to reveal who I am as a person and as a player,'' he said. ''I just thank them, and I'm glad to be a Cardinal.''
Floyd's arrest last year was his third alcohol-related run-in with authorities. He was cited for underage drinking in May of 2009 and January of 2010. The Cardinals say they thoroughly researched Floyd's behavior before deciding to draft him.
''A lot of work by everybody in this organization,'' coach Ken Whisenhunt said, ''background checks, talking to him. He contributed a lot to it with his honesty and how he handled himself. You look at where they are, where they finished up, what they've gone through, how he handled that, and it's all been positive.''
Floyd said he finally realized he could not behave like a normal college student.
''Being in the spotlight all the time at Notre Dame, it's hard to go out,'' he said. ''You can't be very social because there's always stuff out there, plus media and people's cellphones and such things like that. I kind of changed my whole scenery around friends - just guys - we kept each other in line and watched out for each other.''
Floyd said he has already accepted Larry Fitzgerald's invitation to move in this offseason during workouts. Both receivers are from the Minneapolis area. Floyd considers Fitzgerald his mentor, and Fitzgerald had not tried to hide his desire for the Cardinals to choose the wide receiver, despite the team's glaring need on the offensive line.
''I've known him since high school,'' Floyd said. ''The guy who he trains with, Bill Welle, in Minnesota, I train with him every time I go home. He's just a great guy. Every time Larry comes home, I'm with him, catching balls and just trying to learn.
''That's why I'm excited that I'm here, because I get to learn from one of the best,'' Floyd said. ''He's actually a guy that will want to teach me, to make me the best player I can be.''