The nation’s top overall prospect, lineman Arik Armstead (Pleasant Grove, Calif./Elk Grove), recently backed out of a longstanding commitment to USC and declared his recruitment open. So the question now becomes where will Armstead ultimately land?
It is probably a safe bet that Arik Armstead will end up going to USC anyway or staying in the Bay Area and going to Cal.
Best guess here is he ends up on the West Coast.
The 6-foot-8, 265-pounder took an official visit to Notre Dame during the weekend and it was once my opinion that the Irish were the team that could sway him. After talking to several people familiar with his recruitment, I am going to back off of that stance. There’s no doubt that Armstead enjoyed his visit to South Bend and you can’t count the Irish out at this point, but distance from home indeed could end up being a factor here.
Armstead is currently scheduled to be at the epicenter of college football on the weekend of Nov. 4 when he takes an official visit to Alabama. The second-ranked Crimson Tide plays host to No. 1 LSU in what is the biggest game by far of the college football season. Alabama has kept in touch with Armstead, but again the proximity issue comes into play.
Armstead also will visit Texas. The Longhorns are an interesting player in this and could very well emerge as a factor from what I am told. Still, Austin, Texas, though is only 400 miles closer to Armstead’s hometown than South Bend, Ind., so just like Notre Dame and Alabama, it is going to take a lot to overcome the proximity factor.
There are other schools on the fringe that could end up making a move. Oregon is one. Oklahoma could be another.
The way I see it, there are two frontrunners here, Cal and USC. If it does come down to the Bears and Trojans, it will be a battle between not only two Pac-12 rivals, but two of the most accomplished recruiters in the business, Cal defensive line coach Tosh Lupoi (Armstead and his family has a great relationship with Lupoi) and USC defensive line coach Ed Orgeron. Both have had their names peppered across national top recruiters lists for several years now and flat-out get it done signing prospects. They also have a track record of putting defensive linemen in the NFL, something that is very important here, as it is for most of the top prospects each and every recruiting cycle.
So provided it plays out like we think it will, this could be epic, one of the most followed recruiting battles on the West Coast in the modern era of recruiting.