The Oregon Ducks will be strong on the defensive line in 2012, with a wealth of veterans on the inside at tackle, All-American candidate Dion Jordan on one side and strong candidates for the starting job returning on the other.
Normally this situation would suggest that all defensive linemen coming in as freshmen would redshirt. That may not be the case in 2012, and one of the prime candidates is Sacramento-area standout Arik Armstead, who was ranked as one of the top linemen in the nation on either side of the ball coming out of high school.
Of course, without continued effort, potential means nothing, something the Pleasant Grove high school product understands.
"Now that I'm in college rankings don't matter," said Armstead. "Everybody is on an equal playing field so you just have to work to stay with the top of the class."
At 6-foot-8 and hovering around 300 pounds, Armstead is obviously an imposing figure. Duck Sports Authority spent a week in San Antonio at the Army All-American combine and game with Armstead and came away extremely impressed. With surprising quickness and an ideal frame, Armstead was a bit raw with his technique but learned very quickly during his time at the combine.
Three months later Armstead enrolled at the University of Oregon and participated in spring drills, during which he further improved his game.
"My technique is getting better," said Armstead. "I was with Coach Azz (Oregon defensive line coach Jerry Azzinaro) and the rest of the guys every day on the sleds and trying to get that perfected."
Oregon senior defensive tackle Isaac Remington saw plenty to like this spring from the freshman.
"He is calm and collected," said Remington. "He is not like a freshman. He is going to be a big help this year if he gets his stuff down. He is definitely a big kid who knows what he's doing."
What did Armstead feel he accomplished during spring camp?
"Coming in and getting my feet wet, really," Armstead answered. "Coming into fall camp I'm going to be ahead and not just jumping right into things, running around like a chicken with my head cut off. I'm going to know what I'm doing."
Between spring and fall camps he plans to continue to work on the playbook and integrating with his new teammates.
"This whole time I'm going to be able to be getting my plays down, work on my technique and be around the guys, build on relationships and all those things that are going to help me be a better player."
Should the freshman defender continue to develop this fall as he did during spring, Duck fans should be prepared to get to know Arik Armstead quite well when the season rolls around.