By Joe Davidson
UPDATED on Jan. 24
The phones are ringing off the hook at the Armstead house in Elk Grove, and there's been a steady stream of some of the biggest football faces in the country at the front door and on the family couch.
Arik Armstead is a wanted man, with scores of colleges providing a full-court press to talk to him, to visit him, to land his considerable football and basketball gifts. The 6-foot-8, 295-pound Pleasant Grove High School All-American lineman will entertain home visits in the coming days from the following schools, with a heavy load of visitors on Thursday:
* Cal (Bears have been on him since his freshman season, with football coach Jeff Tedford and basketball boss Mike Montgomery in for home visits; new DL coach hire Todd Howard is interesting as Howard was the first to offer Armstead a scholarship - 3 years ago when Howard was at UCLA; Cal staff visited with Armstead's on Sunday).
* USC (Trojans coach Lane Kiffin, defensive coordinator father Monte and defensive line coach Ed Orgeron made a home visit tonight - Tuesday; speculation of bad blood with Armsteads and Kiffin certainly wouldn't include a home visit; USC should be preseason top 3 team this fall).
* Auburn (Tigers head coach Gene Chizik and assistant will make home visit on Wednesday; have visited the school before; Tigers won BCS title in 2010).
* UCLA (Bruins and new coach Jim Mora pay a visit on Wednesday; Bruins already have scored well on recruiting).
* Washington (practically the entire defensive staff in for a visit Thursday, including former Cal assistant Tosh Lupoi; hoops coach Lorenzo Romar also has been in constant contact).
* Oregon (coach Chip Kelley stops by on Thursday, days after turning down Tampa Bay Bucs job and a day before visiting another national top 5 recruit in Grant safety Shaq Thompson).
* Notre Dame (Irish coaches have been regulars on campus - in class, even - and for home visit).
"It's crazy but it's cool," said Armstead's father Guss Armstead, who has a notebook and calendar full of expected visits. "We really can't complain. We're blessed. It's a unique situation. Our boys are really good kids. They're humble. They're handling this really well."
And about USC, seemingly out of the running long ago? Guss Armstead said it made no sense to turn down a home-visit offer from Kiffin, whom Armond played for.
Arik has no more campus visits. His last visit was to Auburn, a trip he took with brother Armond and their father. Arik said he would love to play with his brother in college, but it certainly isn't a deal breaker.
Armond has one more season after starting on the defensive line in previous seasons with USC. Armond did not play this past fall for USC due to an undisclosed medical condition that was never life threatening. Armond will return to USC in the coming weeks to work on his master's degree. He could still play another season for USC, which will likely be a top three preseason team next season. Armond also happens to be an intriguing NFL prospect at 6-5 and 295 pounds, able to play tackle or end.
Arik gave USC a verbal commitment before his junior season then de-committed in November to accept recruiting trips to Alabama, Notre Dame, Oregon, Cal and Auburn.
The Armstead brothers had hoped to make their college choices earlier last week, and Arik was ready to take classes at either Cal, Notre Dame or Auburn as he was enrolled, not uncommon for blue-chip prospects who graduate from high school early. But petitioning the Southeastern Conference to transfer takes weeks and not days, and the news of Lupoi leaving Cal for Washington stunned Arik.
Said Arik, "I'll take my time and make the best decision. It got too rushed. We'll figure things out."
Armstead said earlier that he does like Todd Howard, the new Cal defensive line coach and joked that he hoped the coach still remembered him. Son, he remembers.
In the meantime, the brothers have been savaged on social media outlets such as Twitter, with frustrated fans - or those feeling jilted - firing off venomous notes. The brothers nod their heads and wonder.
Photo by Brian Baer
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