Arizona speed merchant solid to Idaho

TWO-TIME ARIZONA 100- AND 200-METER STATE CHAMPION TRAE ARMSTRONG is a running back out of Deer Valley High with blistering speed that committed to the Vandals in December and plans to sign with Idaho on Wednesday. Armstrong gained 1,800 yards and scored 23 touchdowns as a senior, and this week spoke to about his commitment to Idaho and his plans for the fall.

When describing the speed that Idaho runningback recruit Trae Armstrong brings to the program, the best place to start is off the football field and on the track. Last year as a junior he swept the Arizona track state championships in the 100, 200, and 400 -- an impressive feat anywhere. But this wasn't just a one-hit-wonder. He began making a name for himself as a track star years before, and was coming off winning the 100- and 200-meters as a sophomore.

That alone would probably be impressive enough, but then dig a little deeper to see the times he was running to torch the track, and it gets even more impressive:
-- As a junior, his season best was 10.34-second 100m run at the Great Southwest Classic, which was .01 seconds off the all-time fastest mark in Arizona high school track history.

-- He also ran a 20.89 in the 200m at the Great Southwest Classic, which is No.3 all-time in Arizona track. No.1 is Dwayne Evans, and No.2 is Michael Bates, both of whom won bronze medals in their respective Olympic games.

-- Those times he ran as a junior would have reportedly placed him 2nd in the Pac-10 Championships.
That speed propelled Armstrong to a tremendous high school football career at Glendale (Ariz.) Deer Valley High School, and also has him poised to take a shot at the Olympics (possibly as early as this summer).

A three-year starter at multiple positions on the gridiron for the Skyhawks, his greatest impact was in the offensive backfield. As a junior he rushed for 1,521 yards on 228 carries and 18 touchdowns and went on to earn Honorable Mention Class 5A All-State recognition.

He backed that up with an even more productive senior season that included 1,794 yards on 231 carries (7.77 yards per carry) and 23 touchdowns, earning him 2011 All-Arizona Division II Second Team honors. For a three game stretch he ran for more than 200 yards in each.

With all that behind him, and with a shot at competing in the 2012 Olympics as a sprinter in front of him, Armstrong went into this recruiting season ranked the No.53 prospect overall in the state of Arizona, and among the top 10 running backs in the state.

And one of Idaho's top targets in the 2012 recruiting class.

He is a game changer that has the speed to change the course of a game on a single play. And he has the speed to compete at an elite level nationally and internationally.

So what attracted him to the University of Idaho?

Read on.

About his commitment to the Univeristy of Idaho:
"Yeah. I'm solid to U of I. I'm signing with them on Wednesday."

About who was recruiting him to Idaho:
"Coach Axman was, then after he retired Coach Criner and Coach Gesser took over recruiting this area."

About his official trip to Idaho and overall impression of the school and program:
"I came down the weekend of December 17th. And honestly, I was really looking at it as kind of just going – because I just respected there. They have a really good relationship with my coach. Coach Akey actually coached with my head coach [Joe Kersting] -- he and Coach Axman. I went down there, and I think the thing that really stood out is the ratio of 16-to-1, the student-to-teacher ratio. And the players – I had a really good time with the players there, they all seem really close together and you couldn't tell that they were a 2-10 team. They all still have each other's backs, nobody is pointing any fingers. They worked hard and they just came up short. It's looking good for the future, everybody is working hard and everyone likes what is coming back, and I feel like I can fit in."

About his host during his UI visit:
"Guy Reynolds. I didn't know him - his senior year was my freshman year, and they played my school. His school's a powerhouse down here, I didn't know of him but I knew of his school. We started talking and we clicked really well."

About his other offers and what tilted him towards the University of Idaho:
"I had offers from Texas Tech, ASU, Montana, and LSU. I think that U of I is not the "big name" school, but I could care less about publicity and all that stuff, it's more about what is going to fit for me and help me be successful. U of I really helped with that. And also, I know I'm going to college to play sports, but in reality it's for an education. I think at the University of Idaho I can get a really solid education, especially with my major – journalism. They have a really good journalism program.

"It felt good, it felt comfortable, and it felt like home. It felt like had known these guys forever. It's just a good feeling down there, and that's where I was going to end up."

About whether the offers were for football, track, or both:
"ASU was for football and track. Texas Tech was for track. LSU was for track."

About the players he met while visiting Idaho:
"I met James Baker, the JC kid. I met Brian Reader, the quarterback, and then me and Chad [Chalich] and Addison Palomino we all hung out for the most part."

About whether he was friends with any current players:
"I don't know any current players, but Ron Mallory went to my high school. I knew Ron, but other than that I didn't know anybody."

About telling coach Akey, and his reaction to the news that he was committing to Idaho:
"I called him three days after the visit, and I called and said ‘Hey coach, I'm just calling to let you know I'm going to be a Vandal.' And actually it was right in the middle of a staff meeting and they were all fired up about it. It was a good feeling after I committed – like I did what was right and what was best for me."

About the position(s) he is being recruited to play at Idaho:
"I'll be running back, and then aside from running back I'll motion into slot, and different positions also."

About his strengths as a football player, and what he brings to the gridiron:
"Personally, I think my strengths are my vision and the speed that I have. I think that will help a lot. I know that I have to get bigger and I have to get stronger, I think those are my biggest weaknesses right now. I think once I figure everything out, get bigger and stronger, everything else will take care of itself."

About who he models his game after on the college and pro level:
"No, not really. A lot of people say that I'm going to be like Maurice Jones-Drew and all that stuff. But his body is a lot different than mine, a lot thicker in the lower body than I am. So, I don't really model myself after anybody."

About redshirting and his immediate plans for this fall:
"Coach Akey said I probably won't redshirt. He felt like I could play right now, but we'll see after camp. He said after a few days in camp we'll see how things are going. If things are going good, he said there's no need for me to redshirt if I can make plays – that I can play right now."

About his aspirations to compete in track at the collegiate and Olympic level:
"Actually I qualified for the B trials for the Olympics my junior year. To go to the A trials I have to run a 10.18, and I ran a 10.34 as a junior. So, it's a possibility; it's something I'm shooting for. If the opportunity presents itself, I think I will take it and see how far that goes."

About whether he will be joining the Idaho track team:
"Yeah. My events are the 100, 200, 400, and 4x100 and 4x400 relays."

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