A two-way star, Arik Armstead has been a force on the line at Pleasant Grove High. He stampeded his way to 42 tackles, 3.5 sacks and three pass deflections as a senior, also blocking for an offense that averaged 52 points per game. A top basketball recruit as well, Armstead holds offers to Cal, Notre Dame, USC and Oregon, among many others.Read More Below
Pleasant Grove (Calif.) standout Arik Armstead may be a little brother, but there's nothing little about him. The 6-8, 280-pound lineman towers over opponents, even outgrowing his 6-5, 287-pound brother, Armond.
Eagles' coach Joe Cattolico, who mentored both, first met Arik as a sixth-grader. He thought that he would be the smaller of the two.
"It's kind of ironic because obviously he turned out to be bigger," Cattolico said. "You don't put a lot of athletic abilities of that nature into a frame that big."
The Armsteads have bucked that trend: While Armond is a defensive tackle at USC, Arik holds countless offers in both football and basketball. His statistics are staggering: As a senior, he recorded 42 tackles, 3.5 sacks and countless blocks for an offense that rushed for more than 4,000 yards. On the hardwood, he's led Eagles to a 5-0 start in 2011.
"Just the possibility of him being able to do it puts him ahead of 99 percent of the population," said Cattolico. "Most guys aren't able to do either, and he's able to do both."
The football scholarships filtered in first, but basketball offers soon followed. And though Armstead concedes that basketball was originally his favorite sport, he now says he has no preference. He may not have to choose: Several schools are offering him as a two-sport athlete.
"I'm blessed to be talented in both," he said. "I've worked hard my whole life to be able to do both."
He does have to decide, however, which uniform he'll wear after Christmas. Armstead already possesses the necessary credits to graduate, affording him the luxury to enroll early in the college of his choice. Several potential options, including Notre Dame, would consider playing him this season. It's something he's factoring into his decision.
He's also weighing various other factors, including proximity to home and relationships with coaches. His leading options include Cal, Oregon, Washington, Notre Dame, Texas, Auburn and USC, among others, the latter a program he decommitted from after it denied Armond medical clearance in October. He wants to figure out where he'll best develop -- as both a player and a person.
This much is telling: During his sensational senior season, he volunteered to play nose guard, a position he's unfamiliar with. According to Coach Cattolico, it's one he'll never play again, as his athleticism and speed make him a premier edge-rusher. But given Pleasant Grove's roster, it provided the Eagles with the best chance to win. The results were striking: They went 12-2, finishing as CIF Sac-Joaquin section runners-up.
No matter where he goes, Armstead will make an immediate on-field impact. But perhaps equally as important, he'll provide a valued locker room personality.
"I wanted to win just as much as my teammates did," he said.