Expert's Take: Arik Armstead (Football)

When it comes to recruiting on the West Coast, National Football Recruiting Analyst Brandon Huffman has the area on lock-down. Here, he discusses the recruitment of the No. 1 player in the Class of 2012, Arik Armstead, one of the Longhorns' newest recruiting targets. Armstead was committed to USC. Talk about the decommitment, and his reasons for it.

Brandon Huffman: "There are a couple of factors involved with his recommitment. I think that one was that he originally committed right at the end of his sophomore year. So he was committed almost a year and a half, and was in essence raw to the recruiting process by committing so early. I think he wanted to know what other schools and other opportunities would be available if he opened up, what visits he could take.

"Schools like Texas, Oklahoma and Oregon figured that he was so dead-set on USC that they never recruited him. Then, after he opened up, immediately there was interest there. Again, a lot of that had to do with his committing so early. He basically kept himself from experiencing the process.

"The other part is that his brother (USC senior defensive lineman Armond Armstead) had a medical issue, and he hasn't been cleared by USC to be able to suit up. So his family hasn't been really happy with how that's been handled. There are some hurt feelings there and they're upset about how that's going on." Where is his recruitment at now? Is this a situation where Texas could get an official visit?

Huffman: "I think they certainly can get an official visit from him. They offered him last week, as did Oklahoma and Oregon. You're talking about the cream of the crop of college football there. You have two schools that have played in the BCS National Championship game the last two years and a third that was the No. 1 team in the country up until this week. He's going to Alabama, and he visited Notre Dame this past week. Outside of Oregon, those are four of the most tradition-laden schools in the country.

"Certainly those schools are in-line to get official visits from him, and from there, it's just about doing whatever they can to get him on campus." How do you feel he projects at the college level? Where do you think he'll be in three years?

Huffman: "Three years from now, I think he'll be the starting left tackle at a major program and just biding his time until he makes a jump to the NFL. The last time I've felt this sure about an offensive lineman was Tyron Smith ( No. 1 OT in 2008). He was a guy who was the No. 1 offensive tackle in the country before being the first tackle taken in the 2011 NFL Draft. I think Armstead is that caliber player, except that he's even better. He's more prototypical. He's not fat; not an obese guy. He's a taller guy, like (Miami Dolphins OT Jake Long). He's (former Baltimore Ravens OT) Johnathan Ogden-esque." Looking ahead at whichever school wins Armstead: how will they have done it?

Huffman: "They will have done it by being very sincere and genuine with him through the process, and by offering him a chance to play on the defensive line. He knows that he could be a special offensive lineman, but his heart and passion is really on the defensive line. So Texas, or whoever, will really have to convince him that he's going to get a legitimate chance to play on the defensive side of the ball. And they're also going to have to let basketball be a prominent part of his future at a particular school. With the schools that he's visiting, they're the kind that will be playing in January, so you're talking about him missing the non-conference basketball portion of the schedule. But they have to be open to him playing basketball." It isn't necessarily rare for a player to play multiple sports in college. But you don't see it a ton with linemen, especially guys Armstead's size. Would basketball be a negative for him, in terms of trying to keep his weight up? A positive in terms of the athleticism and footwork? Zero gain?

Huffman: "I think at the position he plays, it's a little bit of all of that. The conditioning and footwork he'll receive in basketball is good. But like you mentioned, it could take some of that weight off him. I do think it helps that he wants to be a defensive end. But as far as an offense tackle, that's always the danger, that he'll keep the weight off that he needs to be physical and hold up at the point of attack.

"He's such a good football player, but basketball is really that important to him. So you take that chance and let him play basketball. That's the difference between getting him and not getting him. That's the reality. Armstead is a good basketball player. He's an elite football player. He could maybe be a Glen Davis in college in terms of being a good big man at 6-foot-7 and playing the four or the five.

"But you're talking about him being a top-five pick as an offensive tackle. You're talking about him playing in Turkey or Greece for a pro basketball contract, or getting a fat NFL contract in 2015." You talked about how he projected on the offensive side of the ball. If he's intent on playing defense, how does he project there?

Huffman: "He's got the quickness, first step, athleticism, and length to be a poor man's Mario Williams. He's' not going to be (former Florida Gator and NFL defensive end) Jevon Kearse off the edge. He's not quick enough. But he's a tall or a long guy. He's not really a 3-4 (outside) 'backer, and he's probably too tall to be a defensive tackle. But he could certainly be a very good defensive end.

"I suppose he could play some tackle, but I think he's more end in terms of an end/tackle hybrid. That's where he would see the majority of his snaps. With him, you're looking at a guy who would be a top-10 and a four-star defensive end if that's where we thought he was going to play. But you watch him on the offensive line, and he's special there. And he knows that." So if he knows he's a special offensive lineman, is he open to a switch? Is this a situation where he just wants a legitimate shot at one side of the ball, or is he dead-set on playing there?

Huffman: "All he's asking for is a shot at defensive end. It's a lot like (Oregon freshman standout) DeAnthony Thomas. He wanted a shot at running back and if that didn't work out, he was perfectly content to be a cornerback and a return man. But Oregon saw him on offense, saw how effective and electric he could be, and he's sticking there. Armstead could very well do the same thing. It's a little bit different when you're looking at a defensive lineman as compared to a skill-position guy. The main question with Thomas was just if he could take the pounding as an every-down back, and how many carries he could get. All Armstead wants is just a shot at defensive end, and it has to be his first shot.

"He understands that he has the makings of a special offensive tackle. And if he doesn't work out on defense, he would be willing to move."

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