Editor’s note: This story originally ran in the 2017 SCV High School Football Preview, published by The Signal on Aug. 25, 2017. The story has been updated to show the CIF cleared Floyd to play after the preview went to press.
In the Golden Valley weight room, DeGabriel Floyd doesn’t always stand around in between sets.
Sometimes he drops to the floor, face down, and bends his arms to 90 degrees, pushing his 220-pound frame from the ground.
Other players not already occupied by a squat rack or bench do the same. Pushups all around.
The imprint Floyd’s made on the Grizzlies is undeniable.
“He really leads by example,” says Golden Valley coach Dan Kelley. “And that’s the type of player you want.
“Anything he does, they want to copy it.”
Floyd came to Golden Valley this year as a transfer from Hawkins High School of Los Angeles.
This spring, Hawkins was cited for using ineligible players in 2016 and had to forfeit all of the season’s wins and enter the following two seasons on probation, according to stories on LATimes.com.
The football coaching staff was removed, according to The Times, and multiple players transferred.
With cousins who went to Golden Valley, Floyd, a four-star USC recruit, moved in with his aunt and enrolled at the school.
“A lot of people think I’m just bouncing around, but I’m just trying to make the best decision for me and my family and what’s going to work out the best,” Floyd says.
As of August 21, Floyd was ineligible to play in any CIF section for 18 months after being ruled in violation of one of the “transfer rules” when he played at Hawkins, according to CIF Los Angeles City Section Commissioner John Aguirre.
But Floyd was cleared by the City Section, and subsequently the Southern Section, days later – a relief to the Grizzlies, who have benefited from his quiet maturity.
“He was quiet at first, but we took him under our wing, and he’s opened up,” linebacker DJ Turner said of Floyd, who was named a team captain before playing a down at GV.
Floyd says he doesn’t talk often or ask questions, and he definitely does not like being asked questions.
“But I’m a cool person,” he says.
Floyd has dealt with more in his life than the average high school junior.
He’s seen the death of a teammate, who was shot in Watts in 2015, and of his own father, who died of lung cancer in October 2010 – six days after Floyd’s birthday.
“He (would) make fun of us, but at the same time we (would) all laugh with him because he’s just playing with us and the jokes are funny so we can’t really get hurt, so in our hearts he loves us,” Floyd says of his father.
“I remember a few times we got kind of mad at each other,” he says. “I mean sometimes it just made us closer, stronger and it taught me lessons that I use throughout my life.”
Despite being ranked as one of the nation’s top linebackers by 247Sports, Golden Valley plans to use Floyd as a defensive back.
“I feel like I’m up for the challenge,” Floyd says. “I’ve gotten faster. Gained more muscle, lost more weight, more fat. So I think I’m pretty ready to accept the challenge.”
If Floyd is up for a challenge, so is everyone else on the team.
“We bleed, sweat, do everything together,” Floyd says. “So it’s like we all focus on one goal trying to get somewhere. I feel like it’s family.”