The wait is finally over for football player Arik Armstead.
Armstead, a two-sport standout from and one of the hottest prep recruits in the nation, ended months of speculation Sunday by choosing the University of Oregon at a packed news conference in Sacramento.
Armstead’s announcement, which was attended by throngs of both local and national media at the House Christian Church on Broadway, came three days before National Signing Day on February 1. That’s traditionally the day when most high school football prospects announce where they’ll be playing college football next year.
But Armstead’s decision had been anticipated for months.
The former Eagles lineman is ranked the No. 2 high school football prospect in the country by Scout.com and was named a four star recruit on Rivals.com for the class of 2012. At 6’8" and 270 pounds, Armstead was an unusual mix of speed and power, often towering over other players while dominating as an explosive lineman on both sides of the ball.
He was also a key factor in Pleasant Grove’s run to the Sac-Joaquin Section Division I football championship last month, especially on defense, where he racked up 42 tackles and 3.5 sacks in 2011.
Before choosing Oregon, Armstead had considered offers from several other schools, including Notre Dame, USC, UCLA, Washington, Cal and Auburn. At the press conference, he sat behind a table lined with ball caps from each university.
Clearly, making decision was a relief for Armstead. After donning an Oregon cap as camera flashes lit up the room, Armstead mentioned how the decision had been stressful for him, even though he’d watched his older brother, Armond, go through the same process several years ago.
“It was very nerve-wracking, but I felt I handled it well,” said Armstead. “Because of my brother going through this before, I knew what to expect, but it still felt like it was crazy.”
Before choosing Oregon, Armstead had verbally committed last year to USC, where Armond played football until redshirting this season. But the younger Armstead changed his mind this fall after media reports claimed Armond had clashed with Trojans coach Lane Kiffin.
Even though USC had still pursued Arik Armstead, with Kiffin making a recruiting trip to Elk Grove earlier this month, it was widely assumed that Southern California wasn’t where the prospect was headed.
Instead, Armstead selected Oregon—a somewhat controversial decision, coming just a week after Ducks’ head coach Chip Kelly reportedly considered taking a job with the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
But even with that possibility hanging over his head, the former Pleasant Grove standout said Kelly’s honesty and integrity throughout the process won him over.
“The way Oregon approached me, they were straightforward and honest with me,” said Armstead.
Armstead, who will play defensive end at Oregon, also said he will play basketball for the Ducks, which he said was an important factor in his decision.
Eagles head coach Joe Cattolico, who attended the press conference Sunday, said Armstead’s college selection had received more national attention than any player he’s coached.
“He had a lot of great choices,” said Cattolico. “I think any number of them would have been good choices for him and I think it probably comes down to splitting hairs.”
Armstead’s next step will come soon. Having already finished his required coursework at Pleasant Grove, he will start classes this spring at Oregon and participate in football practice.