Not every high school athlete makes it in college sports, especially at the D-1 level. Success at this level requires diligence, athleticism and commitment much greater than even the most demanding high school programs. It’s a rare athlete who can star at even one college sport, but Arik Armstead has his eyes set on two.
Armstead, a 2012 graduate of Pleasant Grove High School (Sacramento, California), is not your typical athlete. He has a unique combination of size (6-foot-8, 280 pounds) and athleticism, and uses them to his advantage both as a defensive lineman in football and as a forward on the basketball team.
A belief that he can excel in both sports is well supported by Armstead’s high school accolades. His football honors included being named to the Cal-Hi Sports all-state first team and all-NorCal first team as an offensive lineman, as well as first team all-Metro by the Sacramento Bee during his junior year. In 2010 Armstead was also named Delta River League Lineman of the Year, and in 2011 he was listed on the Sac-Joaquin Section first team offensive line. He received national recognition by his selection to play in the U.S. Army All-American game and by his selection as a member of the 2012 Parade All-America team. Racking up more than 40 tackles in his 2011 and 2012 seasons, he was an obvious standout on both the offensive and defensive lines.
Armstead’s honors in basketball weren’t far behind. A three-year starter, he averaged double-doubles over his final two years, with 16 points and 10 rebounds per game as a junior and 10 points and 10 rebounds per game as a senior. He received All-Delta River League recognition as a junior, and as a senior he was ranked No. 3 in NorCalPrep.com’s Top-40 boys basketball rankings.
Armstead’s transition to the college arena is off to a great start. He enrolled early for school in the spring of 2012 and participated in Spring football practice. This head start in the system allowed him to rack up 26 tackles as a true freshman, ranking fourth off the bench for tackles. Playing in all 13 games, Armstead debuted as a starter against the California Bears. He recorded his season high of four tackles in a win over Colorado. Following his first football season with the Ducks, he traded in his cleats for sneakers and joined the basketball team. The energetic Armstead, while redshirting, was now helping his new basketball team to claim the Pac-12 Conference Tournament title and advance to the Big Dance.
Armstead has certainly proved himself in football, and it will be exciting to see how he progresses this basketball season. A season free to begin, now that his football duties ended with an Alamo Bowl win against Texas. The Ducks are eagerly waiting to see what Armstead can contribute on the court as a redshirt freshman. His size and strength should help the Ducks in areas they’ve been lacking underneath, with potential for shot blocking and rebounding. These are important stats that can help separate great teams from the merely very good. One thing is certain: with an over-the-top work ethic, Armstead will continue to grow as an athlete. The different workout regimens of the two sports should further support Armstead’s athletic success at Oregon and beyond.
Top Photo by Craig Strobeck