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Football: Armstead picks . . . Oregon

By Jeff Faraudo
Sunday, January 29th, 2012 at 3:27 pm in Basketball, Football, Recruiting.

Arik Armstead, a larger-than-life, two-sport high school athlete from Elk Grove, announced Sunday afternoon he will attend Oregon. Cal and Washington were considered the other most serious finalists.

Armstead made the announcement at his family’s House Christian Church in Sacramento after a flurry of 11th-hour scrambling by recruiters. Cal, Washington, Oregon, UCLA, Notre Dame and Auburn all made final pushes this past week.

Commitments do not become binding until the national letter-of-intent signing day on Wednesday.

The Bears still are awaiting word from top-rated safety Shaquille Thompson of Grant High in Sacramento.

At 6-foot-8, 295 pounds, Armstead intends to play both football and basketball in college. He has said he prefers to play defensive end, but most scouts believe he has better potential as an offensive tackle.

Both Cal football coach Jeff Tedford and basketball coach Mike Montgomery  recruited the Pleasant Grove High product, who graduated in December and hoped to enroll in college for the spring semester. It’s not clear when Armstead might begin classes at Oregon.

Armstead is rated as the No. 2 overall prospect in the country by the recruiting experts at Scout.com, who envision him as an offensive tackle. ESPN.com ranks him No. 24 overall, No. 3 among offensive tackles.

Rivals.com is a bit less enamoured, and has Armstead as the 61st-best prospect in the land, ranking him No. 6 at defensive end.

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  • http://www.thewisdomcow.blogspot.com/ The Wisdom Cow

    Sanctions coming, coach soon to leave, but oh, Kelly didn’t negative recruit.

    Wish you luck, Arik. If Tosh leaving really did sway you from Cal, this makes little sense, see you each year.

  • Neil

    Bummer. I wish Armstead well, but hope he loses every game against Cal!

  • MoreNCsarecoming

    Good decision Arik. Play your heart out. Every competitors wants to be in contention every year for the NC.

  • http://www.thewisdomcow.blogspot.com/ The Wisdom Cow

    He can still enroll early at Oregon, right?

    That would put the delay caused by Tosh as a reason for the choice. I wonder how much he’ll tell of in specifics . . .

  • rob bear

    May Cal continue to beat the hell out of U of Oregon in basketball and may we start a four game winning streak against them in football during this guy’s tenure at University of Oregon. GO BEARS!

  • Juancho

    Bummer. Well better to get prepared now for bad news re shaq.

  • daredevilfan

    Juancho, so what does this mean for other recruits at the back end of Oregon’s list. If they have limited spots, and they grab some guys now, should we be looking at some of their bubble guys and make a late pitch?

  • bigdruid

    Ah, well, good luck to him. At least he didn’t go to UW :)

  • http://www.thewisdomcow.blogspot.com/ The Wisdom Cow

    Yeah, I’m thinking Shaq is elsewhere.

  • http://www.thewisdomcow.blogspot.com/ The Wisdom Cow

    I was ready to handle UW, Oregon has me down.

    Phil Knight is to Oregon sports as
    SuperPACs are to political campaigns.

    It blows when you don’t have one.

  • wehofx

    Best wishes, Arik.

    See your point Wisdom but I’m glad it wasn’t uw – that would of pissed me off. P Knight U is a pretty good school and they have been in 3/4 (?) consecutive bcs games. Academically not Cal but not jokes like $c or the desert schools. It does seem, however, that ck is going to leave sooner than later. Sanctions. BB team sucks.

    RE: “Bears rule Cream of the Crop” Regardless of Shaq, this is still a damn good class. That said, I sure hope Shaq comes to Cal.

    I’m taking my gf to Chinois so she won’t move out on me. Guarantee she’s going to order the most expensive everything on the menu. Can’t wait for loi day.

  • Easy Ed

    Phil “Sugar Daddy” Knight strikes again. Good luck Arik, I hope they didn’t recruit you with the promise of a BCS game. If so, I have one word for you, SANCTIONS.

  • Crawford

    bye bye Shaq….this sucks…potential top 5 class, now were looking at high 20′s

  • Juancho

    Just met sharif abdur rahim at game. His kid is tall as hell. Maybe he can commit ?

  • Daniel

    If you choose Alabama vs. LSU, or have reservations about where you went to school, “So dumb” is a knee jerk reaction. If you choose Oregon vs. Cal (or Notre Dame), “So dumb” is a statement of fact.

    Cal sends lots of guys from both lines to the pros even in down years, has a proven basketball coach (who has sent guys to The Show), and has a great degree as Plan C. Notre Dame has a lot of that going too, even SC fares better for NFL options and degree credibility/network.

    OU won the Rose Bowl this year, and has zero projected 1st round picks per Mel Kiper. Their b-ball is hit and miss, and their degree is marginal. Choosing UO for Nike swag and a chance at a mythical national championship is So Dumb!

    Arik, 48 hours to recommit to a smarter play. Name an UO alum looking for DeSean, or Rodgers money and call me dumb.

  • Juancho

    I preface this by stating how much I love my school. In fact I just got home from the Cal / Stanford game tonight.

    My love for my school has zero to do with sports. It’s based on what Cal represents in society and for me personally. I owe a lot to Cal. Cal was the place I grew up wanting to go to. It was the goal that kept me competitive. And it is the place that engrained in me the value of competing at all times, to always pursue excellence, and to give back.

    But, the football program has really let us down the past two weeks. I think after a few days a lot of folks – myself included started to think that the rough part was over. That Tosh and Kiesau’s departure wouldn’t be “that” bad. Looking back on it maybe I felt that way in order to get through the last week or so.

    But now it’s time to be honest and freshly re-set expectations for this recruiting class.

    Armstead is gone. He chose Oregon. I don’t blame him. I equate it to this. If I have a kid who wants to study Civil Engineering, I’d understand if he didn’t want to go to a mediocre Civil Engineering program. But instead wanted to go to a great one, like Cal or Stanford. Armstead’s engineering is playing college football. Let’s be honest. On the field we have not sniffed Oregon’s tail in years. I know we played them close two years ago. But in general, Oregon is on the national stage, in important bowl games, and playing exciting football. Where have we been with regards to onfield production ? Mediocrity. Why that’s acceptable who the hell knows. For as long as I’ve been following Cal sports (about 17 years) that’s always been acceptable. We all go on with our lives enduring one heart break after another, and there’s always that “almost” moment every 5 or so years where we’re just relevant enough to pour us fresh glasses of kool aid that last another few years.

    I get Armstead’s decision. If playing high level college football in games that matter is his number one goal – he made the right choice.

    Cal’s current pitch is “we put guys into the nfl”. We do. But some of these kids may actually want to hear about how relevant we are each and every Saturday.

  • Juancho

    Wanted to do a separate comment so that it wasn’t one massive entry.

    With regards to Oregon, they do have a first rounder: LaMichael James. Kiper doesn’t usually include underclassmen in his projections.

    Here is where I think we stand in terms of recruiting. From the numerous twitters, and blogs, and newspapers and all that.

    Shaq Thompson – gone. Washington or Oregon. I bet Oregon lands him. What really troubled me was reading a couple days ago that Shaq’s mom has a better relationship with Tosh and Wilcox than with Tedford. That was shocking and let me know we should move on.

    Stefon Diggs – let’s be realistic, he’s not coming to Cal. He’s one of the top 10 or so players nationally, he’s not about to sign up with a school that is being passed on this late in the game by the other blue chippers we had. He’ll end up at Florida or Maryland.

    Markuss Eligwe – he’ll stick with Florida State. He came out here for a free vacation to the bay area. A player who’s been committed to Florida State, with on other real contenders for as long as he has doesn’t just switch to a school that wasn’t entirely on his radar, two days prior to signing day. Chalk that up to a free vacation on the taxpayer. Hope he had a nice time.

    Kenny Lawler – he’ll commit to Cal. He’s offered b/c we’re going to lose a WR, either Payton or Walker.

    Brandon Beaver – he’ll commit to Cal (unless Shaq commits to Washington).

    Jordan Payton – Washington. I know we have other good WRs in this class. But he’s 6’3″ and runs a 4.25 40 yard dash. Think about that.

    Aziz Shittu – Stanford.

    Zach Hoffpauir – Stanford.

    Kenneth Walker – I don’t have a good feel on this one. I think he’s done a better job than others of being secretive with all these interviews recruits give. I think it’s 50/50 between Cal and Washington.

  • Juancho

    Daredevil – the program is one step ahead of you. They offered a scholarship to Justin Davidson (I believe that’s his name) yesterday. He’s a two star tight end from Kentucky. You can imagine that a month or so ago Cal was targetting much more highly rated guys.

    So that’s obviously not a good sign. When I saw that it seemed like we’re grasping at straws and now just trying to make sure we have enough bodies.

    The last outstanding disaster which could befall us is Bryce Treggs leaving. I don’t think that happens. But I never thought Armstead and Shaq weren’t coming to Cal a month ago. I’m going to print out that picture of Shaq, Armstead, Shittu, Payton, McCarthy all throwing the Cal “C” and frame it. So that one day when I’m an old blue I can tell people my war stories. “Tosh-gate 2012″.

    When you see the current commit list below a couple things become obvious. 3 guys on defense. No runningbacks. No tight end. No defensive lineman. No cornerbacks (which changes if Beaver commits).

    But, I’m of the belief that we’re more or less not going to get any new commits from the previous Tosh guys, like Shittu, Shaq, Diggs, etc.

    So dissapointing that we were thinking of a top 5 class. We’ll be lucky to stay in the top 25. If we HOLD ON to the guys who are currently committed we can do that. If we lose another couple we surely won’t. Let’s hope for the best. Because next year is when our recruiting will really suffer.

    The program really F’ed up by letting one recruiter develop so much power and influence. This is what is known as poor risk mitigation. I bought the kool aid that Tosh’s loss wouldn’t be that bad this year b/c of the tough conversation of how he can sell a new school so quick. That goes out the window for the most part next year. And we better realize real doggone quick that his style of recruiting works. Whether we want to demonize him or not. Tedford and co’s post Tosh strategy has failed.

    Current recruits:

    Offense (including K / P):

    Zach “all the pressure is on him to salvage our program” Kline – Quarterback
    Christian Okafor – Offensive Lineman
    Matt Cochran – Offensive Lineman
    Freddie Tagaloa – Offensive Lineman
    Steven Moore – Offensive Lineman
    Maximo Espitia – Fullback
    Chris Harper – Wide Receiver
    Cedric Dozier – Wide Receiver
    Jorday Payton – Wide Receiver
    Bryce Treggs – Wide Receiver
    Kenny Walker – Wide Receiver
    Cole Leininger – K / P

    Defense:

    Hardy Nickerson – Linebacker
    Mike Barton – Linebacker
    Damariay Drew – Safety

    Go Bears.

  • daredevilfan

    I hear what you are saying Juancho, and I agree with most comments, but I believe there is still reason to have hope. We aren’t where we need to be, but we can’t get there overnight. The big thing for me is that we need to taking a step forward every year. I feel this past year was better than the year before, so that is good. And I feel we have had some good recruiting classes over the last couple years, so we can stay on that pattern of getting a bit better each year. If we do that, and don’t misstep, then we will find ourselves near the top in not too long, and then it can be anybody’s bounce of the ball to see who gets into the RoseBowl or better. We have had a lot of the right parts in recent years, but we have been missing hte most crucial ingredient – the quarterback. It can’t be stressed how important that role is. Now with Zack there is hope. I just got my ESPN magazine where they picked him to be the top Qb in the country by 2015. If we get him and Treggs and a couple other receivers and OLmen, then I think we can maybe have the prolific passing attack like when we had DeShawn, LaVelle and Jordan (and we didn’t have the great QB then). I already feel good about our Defense and feel it will only get better. Not sure about special teams, but I think the parts can be there to keep taking our steps forward. I just hope that Tedford will consider platooning Zack and maybe Kyle this year to get them experience. Maybe that will cost us some and we will only end up with the same record, but that would still be a step forwrad. With a continued good class or two based on the facilities, I have hope that our good days can be ahead. Lots of ifs, but the potential is there. Looking forward to keeping hope!

  • Juancho

    You’re right Daredevil, we have to hope for the best. And if the current crop stays committed it’s a good class. No longer a great class, but a good one.

    The problem I see is that with SC being bowl eligible, Washington getting our top recruiter, and the bevy of exciting new coaches in the Pac 12 the competition is only getting stiffer. Let’s hope we continue to get better.

    Last year’s class was a good one. This one can still be a good one. I guess it’s just tough to take. We were so close. And Shaq and Arik are local. Which makes Tosh’s departure scarier. We have a hard enough time getting De La Salle kids since their head coach’s brother works for Oregon. And Tosh went there so he’ll take that connection to Washington. We’ve gotten real good at keeping the local kids here at Cal. I guess we have to make sure that didn’t leave with Tosh.

    Can anyone remember an incoming recruit with as much pressure as Kline ?

  • Juancho

    Im honest enough to say that I’m one of the folks on this blog that is on the “Tedford has run out of gas” side. So for me it’s a bummer because I think Tedford needs exceptional talent to be competitive in the Pac 12. I don’t think he has it anymore to take average to good talent and compete on the big scale. I think he needs more talent than other coaches to compensate for how in my opinion the game has passed him by a little.

  • Juancho

    Looks like Cal offered Jeffrey Coprich a scholarship this weekend. He accepted and has committed.

    He is a two star athlete. We are the only Pac 12 school to have offered him a scholarship. It seems like at this point we’re just trying to get bodies.

  • http://www.thewisdomcow.blogspot.com/ The Wisdom Cow

    I can’t measure my disappointment, but it’s big. It is not like Tedford has not grabbed a “2 star” athlete before with good results, but not with this type of timing. Arik is gone, Shaq is probably following.

    Of course, no amount of help could do anything if the QB play continues to suffer. And there is also very little a top QB cannot make up for. All depends on Kline, ultimately.

    The horrible part is that a top 10 class going with the new facilities was key to a resurgence. Instead, this year is a step backwards. Tosh, himself, may not have been such a loss, but the timing of his switch killed everything. I am certain the tipping point for Arik’s decision was that he can still enroll early at Oregon. He likely plans (an 18 yr old’s plan) to enter the NFL draft after his Junior year, so the sooner he’s playing, the better.

    Tosh’s timing delayed his decision. This can only mean he meant to pick Cal. Otherwise, why delay because a school you were not going to choose lost a position coach? Thanks Tosh. Hope he flattens UW QBs each quarter he plays against you.

    On those WRs, I want to be pessimistic, but Kline really does have an impact for them, I would think. Who the hell knows.

    I’m done investing energy until 2/1, the commits are signed, and a real evaluation can be made. F*ing Tosh.

  • Woj

    Why the long blogs here? Cal losing more good/great recruits should be expected. Cal’s Head Coach is overpaid and mediocre and should have been canned 2 years ago. Cal is now a middling presence in a decent conference. Top recruits want to hear how many Rose, Sugar, Fiesta Bowl games Cal has played in the last deacde and how many conference titles have been won by the Bears. Let’s see: 0 + 0 + 0 + 0 = 0!!!!!

    Enough said, can Tedford immediately and get a much better HC who in turn will finally correct the crappy QB situation and Cal becomes relevant again. Barbour ought to be on the bus out of Berkeley with Tedfraud for dithering the last 2 years and settling for Poinsettia Bowl like games and blowouts wins over Presbyterian.

  • Eric

    Didn’t Nagota go to Oregon? He’s a superstar. Didn’t Patrick Chung go to Oregon? Jaison Williams? Blount? Even Dennis Dixon would get a starting gig if he wasn’t injured all of the time.

    Oregon is getting guys to the NFL, and it is getting better as they get better athletes. But doesn’t the fact that Oregon has not put as many into the NFL as Cal over the last 5 years – even though 4 out of last 5 years Oregon either played for, or was within a single heartbreaking loss of playing for, the NC?

  • Eric

    Let’s see what happens on LOI Day, but once it is over, the implicit comments of the likes of Jauncho, and the more explicit ones of Woj, are the types of things Sandy should analyze.

    I’ve been very down on Tedford since 2008, when it became obvious (to me) he was simply not a good head coach anymore, and that the failings since the 2004 Holiday Bowl were becoming the story of the day.

    There are those that vehemently disagree – that 8-5 and 7-6 seasons are ok, given poor facilities and tree-sitters. Put aside the fact that Tedford’s best average talent (in terms of recruiting and NFL selections) have overwhelmining occurred since 2005.

    Now, after two good classes with highly recruited defensive guys, with a top flight QB having been recruited and effectively committed since 2010, we have the chance at an amazing class – a SEC-type class. But we have now lost 5-star commit, have lost out on all top-flight recruits thus far, and many think we’ll lose many of our other top-flight commits. And they’re not going to UW, which means either the recruits have far more ethics/wisdom than we give them credit for, or it really was about Tosh, and nothing else, and yet UW doesn’t excite them the way Cal did. Maybe it won’t happen, and maybe we hold on to a top-20 class.

    But if we don’t, I’d like to know more than just a “blame Tosh for everything” excuse. We were told Cal’s mediocre performance on the field was caused by tree-sitters and bad facilities. Well, the tree-sitters are long gone, and the facilities are supposed to be better than the sugar daddy facilities at Oregon and OK State. So if we lose the class, seems to me it is something else.

    But of course, terrific coaching can overcome fair to middling recruiting. You think Chris Peterson is losing any sleep that he didn’t pull in all of these great recruits? He’s two easily makeable FGs from playing in two straight NCs.

  • Steve W

    I live in Los Angeles, and the dirty little secret down here is that USC’s football facilities rank near the bottom of the conference. Those prized recruits probably liked what they saw when they walked through Cal’s new facilities, but ultimately it comes down to the tradition of the program and the coaching staff.

    Let’s see….Cal has a losing record in conference since the past several years, has not had a significant win since the Oregon game in 07 and hasn’t produced an NFL caliber quarterback in 7 seasons. And Cal football just lost it it’s most dynamic and youthful recruiting machine to a program that was willing to double his salary.

    The Cal front office needs to take a look at the ruthless decision made by the administration at Fresno State to get rid of Pat Hill. Hill and Tedford are good buddies with great achievements in the rear view mirror. Of course it’s going to take a major losing season before Sandy Barbour hits the eject button on her good friend, but I am keeping my expectation level way down until that day comes.

  • ScottyBear

    Juancho: What happened to Darius Powe? He wasn’t on your list and he is our highest rated WR.

  • Juancho

    Hes solid. Made a mistake

  • covinared

    Juancho: who is putting pressure on Kline?

  • Juancho

    Alumni has higher expectations for kline than any quarterback i remember. Theyve been referencing him for going on two years now.

  • ScottyBear

    Guess it all boils down to coaching. Just look at the 49ers. Same bunch of no names with an after-thought QB.
    It was attitude plus expectations to win. Coaching!Same with Harbaugh at Stanford. Walt Harris and Buddy Teevins both had better coaching resumes than Harbaugh and they stunk up the Farm.

    Look at Cal in 2004. An unrecruited JC QB (Rodgers)a JC transfer running back (Arrington), walk on WR’s (Lyman & Toler), JC transfer safety (Giordano – still in the pros) and 2-3 star recruits like Ryan Riddle, Sid Slater. It was attitude and coaching and the expectation of winning. of course it didn’t hurt that Rodgers ended up being so good and a real leader. THey were as good as any team in the country and should have gone to the Rose Bowl.

    Tedford seems to longer expect to win. The team plays the same way but it starts at the top.

    My point? Having 4-5 star recruits line up to play for your school doesn’t mean a BCS bowl game, and NOT having them doesn’t mean no BCS games. It boils down to the head coach.

    Another side note, how many recruits has Tedford personally recruited? Besides Zach Kline, I can’t think of any. If he does show up at the 4-5 star recruits’ homes, hopefully he is much more warm and fuzzy than his demenaor on the sideline. Robotic. Take off those damn sunglasses and spread the attaboys!!!

  • covinared

    Shame on anyone whose happiness is conditioned on how and for whom stranger just out of boyhood performs on an athletic field.

  • joey

    Short term gain for Oregon and long term loss for AA. At least he will get to play some basketball for the Ducks since they suck and will continue to suck.

  • eric

    If Tedford holds Shaq Thompson and Treggs (Treggs is a no-brainer) I think he deserves some credit for holding a very solid class. If either one goes to another Pac-12 school, let the criticism fly.

  • Woj

    The headline “Cal fires Jeff Tedford with 2 years remaining on his contract” would excite me far more than “Cal gets a commit from xyz 5-star ESPN recruit”

    That would mean real change is underway in Berkeley. Cal football has received some superlative players since 2005 and the results are mediocre, Fight Hunger Bowl worthy. 1 more or less highly touted high school player coming to Berkeley won’t change anything. Big time change and movement up the conference occurs when a new, vibrant, exciting coach takes over for Tedford and eliminates the complacency, plain vanilla play not to lose mentality, and quality of QBing where fans actually expect 2 or 3 throws a game to land in the hot dog vendor’s lap.

  • Juancho

    Looks like shaq and jordan payton were up in washington this weekend. Kenny walker maybe.

  • joey

    Woj,
    Would either of these headlines excite you:
    Cal hires Rich Rod
    Cal hires Mike Leach
    Cal hire Mora Jr.

    Not me.

  • Dan

    Hey Woj-

    Here and amen. Couldn’t agree more. Your type of strong criticism would have gotten you much flak 2 years ago- even though what you say was just as true then. We now have 2 more years of lousy results in which to ame the case that Tedford’s best days are way behind him.

    To me, getting or losing these recruits are irrelevant. Losing them stings, but no coach in America gets less from what they have then Tedford and no coach is more overpaid (thanks Sandy). Next season will more of the same under-achieving with uninspiring play calling, many mental mistakes, subpar special teams, erratic QB play- all while Tedford stands there with that giant poster board of plays, scowling and tightlipped behind those shade- oh yeah, getting blown out, embarrasse and humiliated on national tv in losses to Oregon, SC, Ohio State- and likely now UW and eventually the U of Mike Leach and God know who else.

    But hey, we’ll have a gorgeous Memorial Stadium at the entrance of Strawberry Canyon to watch it all go down. By the end of the season there should be plenty of great seats available.

  • Woj

    By the !beginning! of the season there should be plenty of great seats available. I could never root for Cal to lose to Stanford butt hat game in October should the red menace win a 3rd in a row would likely spell doom for Tedford which is what Cal really needs to turn the corner from the last 5 years of mediocre football. The end of the season against Washignton? will mark the end of Tedford’s tenure, most pigeons in the stadium and folks on Tightwad hill that at the game.

    2012 is a lost year. I hope Cal cans Sandy Barbour too. Tedford can give her a ride home off I-680 as both clean out their shiny new desks in Nov. 2012 at Memorial Stadium.

    And yes, hiring Mike Leach would have been WAY! better. He’s a proven winner ina tougher conference with less resources than Tedfraud. Good hire by Wazzu. Rich Rod as Cal head man sounds great too. He’s hungry wants back in as a HC and won multiple conference titles at W. Virginia something Tedfraud never did.