Armstead Hopes to Meet his Expectations

Armond Armstead's status has been a question mark this Spring. But once he's cleared to play, he plans to show that he's meant to be on the field, period.

If Armond Armstead were to sign up with an online dating site, he'd have a robust profile. Characteristics such as "likes romantic comedies" would be checked. "Sarcastic, funny" would be on there, too. Of musical interests, "classical music" would be listed, and "fishing, chilling" would go under his favorite activities.

Nothing out of the ordinary, one might find. But if the virtual became a face-to-face interaction, the date would raise her head, taking in his 6'5, 300 pound frame. Her eyebrows would go up too, realizing that this mellow, carefree guy also happens to be a physical, beastly defensive tackle on the USC Trojans football team.

"Mondo [Armond's nickname] is a cool guy, he likes attention but doesn't need it. He's very loyal, laidback, chill. He's not really a party person," said fellow Trojan tackle DaJohn Harris.

And what about when he's on the field?

"He's mean. I wouldn't advise saying something to him if you were on the opposite team," Harris said.

Armond Armstead could play multiple positions in 2011. (Kevin Carden Photo)
Armstead, who has moved around the line--starting at both defensive end and tackle in his USC career--said his football demeanor isn't anything like the guy he is off the field.

"I have a lot of aggression inside me that's builds up over different stuff in life, and I feel like in football it's always been a place where i could take out my aggression in a positive way and get praise for it," he said.

The physicality of a defensive lineman suits the Sacramento native well. He can clog up the line or make moves in the backfield, and then when his job is done, he can relax with some popcorn and a movie.

"It's just one of the most rewarding feelings in life, doing your job and making a play. Every time you do it, it feels great," he said.

And Armstead surely felt great last season. In 2010 Armstead started 11 games at end, where he recorded 42 tackles. In the two games against the Oregon schools, he had 15 tackles alone, including a fumble recovery against the BCS runner-up Ducks.

But the big man with a baby face has had some setbacks that have stunted his athletic growth.

He didn't play a single practice this Spring after spending nearly 10 days in the hospital for chest pains, a condition that remains vague. In 2009, Armstead broke his left foot and missed five games. The previous season he missed three games after breaking a bone in his hand.

But Armstead isn't looking back on his woes. His positive nature only sees a hopeful future, stating goals of becoming an All-American, starting at defensive tackle, and improving his pass-rushing.

"I want to come into the season in the best shape possible so I can play every down 100 percent and not get tired," Armstead said.

Fatigue is likely in the Monte Kiffin-based Tampa 2 scheme USC runs, especially against no huddle offenses. But the collected Armstead has a plan: Instead of worrying hard, he'll work harder.

In high school, Armstead didn't have to worry much at all. In his last two years at Pleasant Grove, he recorded a monstrous 167 tackles and had 16 sacks. He was named the All-Metro League MVP his senior year including a slew of other honors. But now, he isn't listed as the starting end or tackle. He knows the stakes are higher, and he has one season left to prove himself.

"Everyone's a star in high school--now we have 100 stars on the team," he said. "A lot of people come here and they're really competitive, that really grooms you and you have to have that hunger inside to be a better player."

Once Armstead is cleared to play, he said Coach Orgeron has told him he'll primarily play inside because tackles make more plays in college, although he also feels comfortable at defensive end.

"I feel like I'm going to be on the field regardless [of position]. Once I start working out I'll be fine I just need the green light," Armstead said.

This Fall Armstead hopes he'll finally meet his match, on the field--in himself. And he is ripe with high standards, expecting to be a huge playmaker that gives his team both energy and the will to win.

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