YOUNGSTOWN This spring was, in some ways, supposed to an early job interview for Collin Floyd.
The former Springfield High School standout, now a junior pitcher for the Youngstown State Penguins, is coming back from Tommy John surgery on his pitching arm and the left-hander had an eye on both a successful return to the mound and proving to professional scouts that he still had what it took to pitch at the next level.
Instead, Floyd and his teammates got an abbreviated start to the season and then saw it, along with all other college sports across the country, come to a crashing halt with the COVID-19 global pandemic.
"I think it was a nightmare at first ... you don't want to see that happen as a college athlete and you don't expect to see it happen," Floyd said. "But it's not just a sport thing, it's a life thing and it's a bigger picture than sports ... it's affecting life and families and society."
Floyd is wrapping up his fourth year at Youngstown State, but missing the season following the ligament transplant that has become known as Tommy John surgery meant he entered this spring with two seasons of eligibility left.
That, ironically, is still the case after the NCAA decided to grant an extra year of eligibility for spring sports athletes who had all or most of their season wiped out by the ongoing pandemic. That puts Floyd in an interesting spot, because he'd still like to be drafted, but knows he has extra time at the college level if that's the path he ends up taking.
The Major League Baseball draft itself is slated to look different this year, with the sport's players association and the league reaching an agreement that would allow Commissioner Rob Manfred to shorter the draft significantly this year in terms of the number of rounds.
That would mean fewer chances to be selected for players like Floyd, who would have benefited greatly from pitching this season and showing what he could do post-surgery.
"It's disappointing especially with the team getting off to a hot start, so now we're trying to keep the momentum going, training every day and bearing down on our goals," Floyd said.
A 7-7 start that included a win over Houston had Youngstown State excited about the rest of the year, but that 7-7 mark will have to be their final record for the season. Floyd posted a 2-1 record and 2.74 earned run average in four starts, striking out 25 batters in 23 innings.
Although on-campus classes are canceled for the rest of the semester, Floyd has remained in Youngstown as he wraps up the semester with online classes. He and roommate Blake Benyo, a redshirt freshman outfielder, are staying in their apartment and doing what they can to stay in shape while staying healthy and complying with social distancing guidelines.
"Basically, my roommate and I try to find low-profile areas where people don't go to do our running and conditioning on an open field so we're not really around people and are being safe," Floyd said. "On top of that, with nutrition, we try to buy enough for two weeks when we shop so we limit how much we go out in public."
With a weight room in their apartment building and a modest home gym, the duo has a lot of tools at hand to stay in shape. Strengthening his arm and the muscles around his repaired elbow remain important for Floyd, who is set to earn his degree in marketing management at the end of this semester. As a double major, he plans to finish his exercise marketing degree next year.
As for the draft being shortened and having less of a chance to be selected by an MLB team this year, he knows he'll have another chance next year and hopefully that would come after a full season in which he, further removed from surgery, would likely be back closer to his pre-surgery self on the mound.
"That doesn't necessarily bother me that it's a shortened draft ... teams had four weeks hard to judge where players are and where they're going to be at the end of the year, but everyone is in the same situation," he noted. "I was really looking at this as a big year to reprove myself and focus on the draft and furthering my baseball career."
Staying in Youngstown during the spring and into the summer is part of the plan to handle what life and world events have brought his way, but also a way for Floyd, Benyo and other teammates to continue to positive momentum they built in their truncated season this spring. When they'll get a chance to return to a normal daily life, get together as a group and get back on the field is uncertain, but uncertainty has become a necessary way of life and for now, their reality.