As the final seconds of Oregon’s Sweet 16 loss to Louisville ticked off the clock Friday night, one member of the Ducks squad knew that while the basketball season may have come to an end, the real work was about to begin.
Arik Armstead gets no rest. Back in Eugene, football is in the air once again, and the big man is ready to roll.
“I’m excited for spring ball. I’ve already been here for one spring, a year ago, so that…time’s flyin’ by.”
Armstead joined the basketball team in January after helping the Ducks to a Fiesta Bowl win over Kansas State, hopping in with both feet, before declaring he would be redshirting just a few weeks later. At 6’8″, 280 pounds, Armstead signed on at Oregon with the intention of being a dual-sport athlete, but at the same time knowing basketball would be his second priority. With the demanding schedule football brings, Armstead would need time to mesh with his teammates on the court, and find his rhythm.
He has made a believer out of his abilities, however, with the most important man.
“He watches our stuff and he goes out there and he knows it,” basketball head coach Dana Altman said earlier in the season. ”He’s really a bright kid. I don’t have any worry about that.”
What impact Armstead will make on the basketball court will not be decided for a while, and as far as football goes, well…there’s no rest for the weary. Oregon begins Spring Ball on Tuesday and, despite a nagging shoulder injury, all signs point to Arik being on the practice field, pads on, ready to go.
When asked about the changes the football team is facing, with a new head coach in Mark Helfrich, Armstead acknowledged there will be some challenges awaiting him.
“We’ve had some changes in football, so…I’m interested to see how different it’s going to be.”
Different or not, Oregon will be counting on Armstead to live up to the hype that surrounds him as a former 5-star recruit. After a freshman season that saw him record 26 tackles and half a sack, he will be called up even more this season. Oregon lost senior Isaac Remington in the middle, opening the door for Arik to take the starting spot. Armstead took to Twitter earlier this week to announce to anyone who was interested that he was in fact ready to take the next step.
“Spring ball starts Tuesday. Time to go friend and get better with my teammates. Spring game on April 27. My work is never ending. No days off.”
If Oregon is to continue their success on the basketball court as well as the football field, Armstead will have to be a key cog for both squads.
When September rolls around, see Arik tackle. When January hits, see Arik shoot.
And in the time in-between, see Arik train.
With basketball momentarily in the rear-view mirror, it’s time to get back to work for all of the football team, the hope of a new season in the air.
For Armstead, it’s simply another day, different sport.
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