LOS ANGELES — Four-star outside linebacker De’Gabriel Floyd knew football was his avenue toward a better life after his third season of football. He was 10, a young kid in Los Angeles hoping for something more. Floyd, who committed to Texas on March 31 and is the No. 4-ranked prospect in the country at his position, started his high school career at Hawkins in Inglewood, a neighborhood notorious for gang violence.
Floyd will spend his senior season at Westlake Village, a Blue Ribbon-recognized high school just 19 miles from Malibu. He moved there in January of his junior year. His head coach is Tim Kirksey, a Californian who has known Texas head coach Tom Herman since his junior year of high school, when he and Herman were teammates at Cal Lutheran, just minutes away from Westlake Village.
“Tom got the best of both worlds for a football coach,” Kirksey said. “He grew up and played football out here in California, so he knows talent, but he cut his teeth recruiting in Texas and knows the mentality it takes to be successful. De’Gabriel is a player with the right mentality to go succeed at Texas. Not everyone is built for it.”
Floyd would say he’s built for it because he has a goal: To make money playing football. Texas is the vehicle to that destination.
“A lot of us inner-city kids don’t imagine all these great things can happen to you, but people saw something special in me, so I think I should try to see how far I can take it,” Floyd said Tuesday after practice. “Going to Texas is a new start and a new path. We’re all just trying to make something better for ourselves.”
The 6-2, 240-pounder will enroll early in January. He’s part of what is currently a 15-man class that ranks 10th in the nation. He’s one of two outside linebackers committed to the Longhorns, along with Marcus Tillman Jr. of Florida. Floyd says he brings speed, enthusiasm and a “killer instinct” to the football field. His nhb5coach raved about Floyd’s work ethic and drive to be the best.
“He doesn’t take plays off and he demands that from everyone else. I’ve coached in this area for 18 years and not every player has that. He’s got the mentality to impart his will on the other team,” Kirksey said. “He walked on campus in January and we knew right away that he’s special. He’s a great kid and he’s going to be a great man. He’s special.”
Floyd was recruited to play Rover, a spot manned by Malik Jefferson in Todd Orlando’s first season as UT’s defensive coordinator. Orlando and his next pupil built a strong relationship on the recruiting trail.
“Coach Orlando is the closest I was with any coach in the recruiting process. It just happened over time. They showed me and my family so much hospitality,” Floyd said. “The whole staff at Texas showed us love from the beginning. It stuck with me.”
Floyd is convinced he’s a big part of Texas’ future, and he helped convince fellow Californian, Chris Adimora, to join him in Austin. Adimora, a four-star safety from Anaheim, pledged to the Longhorns in July and is the No. 14-ranked safety in the country. Floyd describe the two as similar in personality and background, despite not growing up in the same city.
“I told Chris about what I knew about Texas and what I loved about the school. We’re similar people from similar places, so we liked the same thing,” Floyd said. “There are so many great players in Texas. To me, that means we must be a big part of the plan if the coaches are coming out here to recruit us. We want to be part of something special and make a name for ourselves.”