Armond Armstead has found football employment north of the border.
Armstead, a defensive lineman from Pleasant Grove High School and USC, has signed with the Toronto Argonauts of the Canadian Football League.
The 6-foot-5, 300-pound Armstead has impressed in early camp workouts. He was fielding NFL offers as an undrafted rookie free agent but jumped at the chance to play right away after more than a year away from the sport. The CFL season starts later this month. NFL camps open in late July.
Armstead could also conceivably wind up in the NFL at the conclusion of this coming CFL season, which ends in November. Armstead said he is using the CFL experience to jump-start his career after sitting out last season at USC when the school would not clear him to compete.
Armstead's NFL stock dropped because of medical concerns. Before his senior season at UCS, Armstead was briefly hospitalized but a battery of tests revealed he had no heart or blood condition. Still, USC would not clear him to play and NFL teams were leery enough to not draft him, though he had a number of workouts with teams and made visits to NFL sites.
"I had an episode and I was hospitalized,'' Armstead told Canadian media. "They ran a bunch of tests and found out I didn't have any heart condition or any blood condition. That's basically it. I came out and tried to go to the draft, but teams were scared because of the history and they didn't want to take a chance on me....I didn't want to wait until July (for an NFL camp tryout. I decided on the sure shot. All I wanted was an opportunity and the Argos gave me one."
Armstead added that he has been amazed at the experience - the hospitality, the competition and the wildlife, including deer racing across practice fields.
"You just don't see this connection between nature and man in the United States," Armstead said. "It's beautiful and I've enjoyed it."
The Argos also employ former Sacramento State All-American quarterback Ricky Ray and former Del Campo receiver Jason Barnes, younger brother of the Lakers' Matt Barnes.
- By Joe Davidson