By Steve Bartle
A lot has been made about Coach Erickson and his connections within the state of Florida. While that alone has been crucial for the Utes over the past few seasons, it doesn't paint the entire picture of what Coach Erickson is bringing to the table. Case in point, the recruitment of JC running back Armand Shyne.
"Coach Erickson, along with Coach Harding, is the coach that's recruiting me. They seem very cool, we've talked a lot more and I'm comfortable when I talk to them. What I like about Utah, is there’s a special bond with the coaches, you can feel it" you can really tell it feels like a family, and that they really care, and I like that."
That relationship and connection is very important to Shyne, and Erickson is doing a great job selling him on the positives at Utah. "Coach Erickson is just saying he’ll be able to help me as a running back and help me to hopefully get to the next level. Just help me improve. He’s also selling me on the academics at Utah and my mom checked it out and she liked the graduation rate, so that's good too."
When it comes to Armand, the 6' 200 lb running back has flown somewhat under the radar. He played last season at American River College, running for 734 yds and 8 touchdowns on only 128 carries, earning All-Conference honors as a freshman. If American River College sounds familiar to Ute fans, it should. Former Ute great and now NFL running back played at American River College before enrolling at Utah.
When you watch film of Shyne, you can see similarities between him and Devontae Booker. One of the most important traits for a running back is his eyes, that's something that made Booker so good, and something you can see in Shyne's game. Not only that, but he possesses a good mixture of athleticism & toughness. "I’m an aggressive back, that can read very well, and find the hole. I feel like i have a pretty good overall game, I can make guys miss or go through you. I feel like I’m a good leader and I’m always willing to step up when the team needs me."
Armand currently holds 6 offers from Utah, Arizona State, Fresno State, Utah State, Wyoming, and Hawaii. He's also hearing from two other P5 schools in Texas Tech and North Carolina. “I’m really interested in the Pac 12 schools. I’ve talked to Utah coaches more than the Arizona State coaches.” He then went on, "so my top school is Utah."
When it comes to making his decision he’s looking for a few things, “Make sure they have the academics and graduation rate, and that they’ll help me with school. Academics are very important, especially to my moms. And also helping me as a running back, and becoming a better player and person.” And with the effort Erickson has put in with Shyne it’s easy to see why Utah is currently his favorite.