English is one of DeGabriel Floyd’s favorite school subjects.
“I like to write … like essays, letters, things like that,” he said. “I like expressing myself through paper. Through words.”
When Floyd started school at Westlake on Jan. 25, he began writing another chapter of his prep football career.
Westlake is the fourth high school that Floyd has attended in three years. His freshman year began at Saint Monica of Santa Monica. He then transferred to spend the rest of his freshman year and sophomore year at Augustus F. Hawkins of Los Angeles.
When Hawkins was placed on two years’ probation due to using ineligible players in the 2016 season, Floyd had to find somewhere to go.
He landed at Golden Valley, where he spent the first half of his junior year before transferring once again.
Floyd, who played myriad positions for the Grizzlies, cited academic reasons for his latest change of school.
“My grades, they’re not bad, but I just … I wanted to expand my options college-wise,” he told The Signal. “I wanted to go somewhere that was going to help me academically.”
Over winter break, Grizzlies coach Dan Kelley heard rumors that Floyd was looking to leave his program. When school started back up again, Kelley attempted to convince him to stay at GV, which had gotten to the CIF-Southern Section Division 6 championship game with his help.
“We did everything we could to help DeGabriel Floyd from football, with the administration, our principal was involved with DeGabriel, our counselor was very involved with DeGabriel,” Kelley said.
“I told him, ‘You’re a puzzle,’ and I just wanted to be a piece of the puzzle. I wanted to know what was going on and he had his own direction or what he felt was his own direction and it was obviously not the advice he was getting from me.”
Golden Valley had 18 of 19 teams receive recognition for academic excellence from the CIF-SS after the 2016-17 school year.
The only team to not be recognized was football – which had a cumulative GPA of 2.99, according to Golden Valley principal Sal Frias. A GPA of 3.00 was required to make the list.
Kelley and Frias emphasized how important student-athlete education is to the football program and the school.
“At Golden Valley, chances are our counselors are already aware of it,” Frias said of the protocol for an athlete who requires academic help. “The coaches are supporting that. It’s really difficult for a student not to succeed academically. We have many levels of intervention. I’m not saying kids don’t, I’m saying it’s difficult.”
Floyd had complications with his transfer to Golden Valley prior to the start of the 2017 season. He had received an 18-month ineligibility ruling from the CIF Los Angeles City Section, which was investigating whether or not the Floyd family lived at the address provided to Hawkins High School.
Floyd said he is unsure of how long he will have to sit out once football season at Westlake begins.
Meanwhile, at GV, Kelley is focusing his energy on his returning team’s future.
“I’m not going to put all my eggs in one basket,” said Kelley. “DeGabriel Floyd was just one player. Have a lot of great players at Golden Valley and I don’t want them to think that he was the glue that kept us together.”
In his junior campaign with the Grizzlies, Floyd ranked third on the team in terms of tackles with 73. Offensively, he rushed for 407 yards and eight touchdowns and had 37 catches for 578 yards and four touchdowns. He also threw for another two scores.
He will be joining a Westlake program that finished its latest season in the second round of the CIF-SS Division 3 playoffs, falling to Charter Oak 39-28.
Floyd, who has offers from 21 NCAA Division 1 schools, said he expects to play primarily on defense for the Warriors. He’s already is familiar with some of his new teammates because of connections through his 7-on-7 football experience with Premium Sports.
“Football wise, same mindset coming in this year,” said Floyd. “Wherever school I’m at, whether it’s here or whether it be Golden Valley.
“…I made a lot of bonds with a lot of people (at Golden Valley). It was just a good experience. But everything happens for a reason in life. I felt like I was supposed to go to Golden Valley… and now I’m on a different chapter of my life.”