January 26, 2012
Arik Armstead is finished with recruiting after home visits with Cal, Oregon, USC, Auburn, Washington; now decision time

Just talked to Arik Armstead on the phone, and there's a sense of relief and pride in the voice of the All-American lineman for Pleasant Grove High School.

He is finished with the recruiting trips, the in-home visits - all of it - and now will continue to confer with his parents, Guss and Christina, to figure out exactly where he might be the next 4-5 years of his life.

On Tuesday, Auburn and coach Gene Chizik stopped by the Armstead's Elk Grove home for a visit. On Wednesday, Cal and the defensive staff stopped by. Then it was USC with Lane Kiffin, waving an Armstead jersey playfully (and no, Armstead couldn't keep the jersey).

Today - Thursday - it was Chip Kelly and Oregon that stopped by for a home visit. And just now, Armstead and his father Guss left a nearby hotel where Washington coach Steve Sarkisian and six other coaches - an army - put on a power-point display in a rented conference room. There were also several Armstead jerseys on display, No. 9. Armstead likes that number because it honors his late uncle Willie "Buggy" Armstead, who played football at Chico State a generation ago.

Armstead, tall, skilled and brutish at 6-foot-8 and 295 pounds, is the most heavily recruited lineman in Sacramento-area history, more than former Bella Vista and Stanford tackle Gordon King, a first-round pick by the New York Giants in 1978; more than former Notre Del Rio and Washington Huskies star Reggie Rogers in 1982, a 1987 first-round pick of the Detroit Lions; more that Davis and Stanford tackle Jason Fisk in 1989, who played 12 NFL seasons, and more than Tedy Bruschi of Roseville and Arizona in 1991, who won three Super Bowl titles with the New England Patriots.

USC and UCLA encouraged Armstead to take unofficial recruiting trips to Los Angeles next week, but he has declined. Now is the time to think and choose between Cal, Oregon, Washington, Auburn, USC and UCLA.

"I'm good, no more trips or anything," said Armstead, upbeat on the phone.

Armstead said he liked chatting with Kelly.

"He's very witty. I had a good meeting with him. He changed my perspective on Oregon a little more. I asked him about the Tampa Bay Bucs job (that he nearly accepted last weekend). He told me he couldn't guarantee me that he'd be at Oregon my entire career if I went there, but that's ok, because I understand it's part of the job, and when you're successful, other teams will want you as a coach. I'd rather have that than play for a coach who isn't as successful."

Armstead said he enjoyed all his home visits as they bounced ideas off of each other. He was impressed with the Washington set up, and joked that it would have been nice to take one of those jerseys home (prospects can't as it is a recruiting violation).

Signing day is Feb. 1. Armstead said he will consider all the programs, inside and out. He said he can also feel for his friend, Grant star safety Shaq Thompson, who has lost sleep and agonized over this process as he too is weighing between Cal, Washington, Oregon and UCLA.

"I know Shaq's going through this, too, and I've been talking to him," Armstead said. "It's a tough decision for all of us. We're bouncing ideas off each other. We talk about playing together, maybe the same spot and helping a program. We talk about classes, players and the programs."

Is Armstead still getting a good night's sleep?

"Oh yeah, I'm already out of school (having graduated early), so I'm sleeping all morning," Armstead said with a hearty laugh.

More on Arik Armstead: Photo gallery

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Bee staff writers Joe Davidson and Bill Paterson provide news, analysis and insight on the area high school sports scene in their Prep Blog. Have a question to ask them? Send them an email any time at jdavidson@sacbee.com or bpaterson@sacbee.com.

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