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Armstead’s recruitment highlights West Coast visitors

Oct 17, 2011, 12:08 PM EDT

Arik Armstead

This Saturday was already a critical weekend in the head-to-head recruiting battle the Irish and Trojans are waging with each other. It just got a whole lot more interesting with five-star defensive end recruit Arik Armstead backing away from his commitment to USC on Sunday, less than a week before his official recruiting visit to Notre Dame.

At 6-foot-7, 280-pounds, Armstead doesn’t do the word prototype any justice. He’s a monstrous prospect that also doubles as a power forward during basketball season. Whether he ends up at defensive end like he prefers or as an offensive tackle, his athleticism has him among the top players at either position in the country.

While Armstead was the longest tenured commitment to the Trojan recruiting class, the idea of a de-commitment had to at least be in the back of the minds of both USC coaches and fans thanks to the mysterious medical situation surrounding Arik’s brother Armond, a senior defensive end on the Trojan roster. Armond has been held out of Trojan contact drills with an undisclosed ailment, and the Armstead family hasn’t been happy with the way the university has treated the situation.

“All I can say is that over the last six months, my family has been a little disappointed with some things going at USC but that’s all I want to say on that,” Arik told’s Greg Biggins.

Armstead plans on enrolling early, shortening the recruiting process and putting a huge emphasis on the upcoming weekend. He’ll be joined by a very large West Coast contingent in South Bend, with nearly every recruit holding offers from both Notre Dame and Southern Cal.

Here’s a quick look at a few key targets for both schools:

Zach Banner, OL: At 6-foot-9, 310-pounds, Banner is one of the few recruits that look down at Armstead. He’s got coast to coast offers and is one of the most coveted offensive line targets in the country.

Byron Marshall, RB: The San Jose native has a brother at Arizona State, but offers from just about every team in the Pac-12. He’d be a great complement to Will Mahone.

KeiVarae Russell, RB: Another dual-threat running back, the Irish will likely battle hometown Washington and the Trojans for Russell’s services.

Shaq Thompson, S: It won’t be hard for Thompson to see Harrison Smith and know he’ll have a shot at his job next season. But Thompson has choices, including USC, Auburn, Alabama, Oregon and Cal, where he was once committed.

Jordan Payton, WR: Once committed to the Trojans, Payton saw the Irish in Ann Arbor and will see them again this Saturday. His offers include most of the Pac-12 and Florida, Oklahoma, Miami and Michigan among others.


There are plenty of other recruits that are looking at both schools visiting South Bend on Saturday, including top national players like Cal commit Bryce Treggs and Georgia commit John Theus. Blue-chip offensive tackle Ronnie Stanley, entertaining offers from both USC and Notre Dame was scheduled to make his first visit to South Bend, but reports scheduling conflicts have pushed that visit back.

Either way, the recruiting subplot will be an interesting one on Saturday. And there might not be a more important cog in all of this than Armstead, one of the biggest players — both literally and figuratively — on either teams’ recruiting board.


  1. irishfan2791 - Oct 17, 2011 at 1:39 PM

    Hey, Keith is there any news on the likes of Green-Beckham, Spence, Peat, or K. Marshall coming this weekend, its a big weekend for our Irish and a big win against USC would go a long way in securing a huge recruiting class. Gosh I can’t wait for this game man, I hope the boys just stomp’em out early and pile on late!!!!!! GO IRISH!!!!

  2. oldestguard - Oct 17, 2011 at 2:21 PM

    As if this game needed any more build-up…

    Sorry I can’t be there, but I’ll do my best to be heard – all the way to SB.

  3. borromini - Oct 17, 2011 at 3:27 PM

    I thought for sure K. Marshall was also going to be in SB this weekend. Did something happen?

  4. nddomer2 - Oct 17, 2011 at 3:33 PM

    K. Marshall will be there. I believe the last in the article was West Coast recruits with offers from USC and ND.

    • nddomer2 - Oct 17, 2011 at 3:35 PM


    • borromini - Oct 17, 2011 at 5:09 PM

      But KM is from North Carolina.

  5. brendanunderscoreg - Oct 17, 2011 at 6:39 PM

    I can not wait for this game! Huge recruiting weekend (potentially), USC, possibility of a new uniform being unveiled, night game, Lane Kiffin making his exasperated face. This is too much!

    Let’s go Irish!

    • xavty - Oct 18, 2011 at 11:29 AM

      What are you talking about new Jerseys? Are they going to wear an alternate green for this game like they have in past years?

      • brendanunderscoreg - Oct 18, 2011 at 12:41 PM

        I think they’re saving the greens from the Army game last year for the Maryland neutral site game. Michigan unveiled their “Under the Lights” away uniform vs MSU. We haven’t unveiled our “Under the Lights” home uniforms, yet. I’m just speculating, but I think we’ll be seeing something new this weekend.

  6. 1notredamefan - Oct 17, 2011 at 7:53 PM

    Nice little clip to get the motor started…

  7. jerseyshorendfan1 - Oct 17, 2011 at 8:04 PM

    Getting commitments from half these guys would secure a top 5 class. This is big. I hope we can hold on to the ball and if so, we should be fine. They have some key injuries and I don’t think their D is anything that great so the running game should be firing. The Trojans are losing some of their luster and with the probation, no bowl games, no rankings, loss of scholarships, etc I hope these recruits are starting to see what USCum is really made of. Why not go with a winner instead and pick ND guys? We’d love to have you. We need to whip up on SC and not let off the gas (sorry 2’s and 3’s I say leave the starters in the whole game) and then hope that Stanford can win out……until their last game that is.

  8. jerseyshorendfan1 - Oct 17, 2011 at 8:07 PM

    Oh and Rutgers beat Navy and held their option to low yardage this past weekend, so no more excuses Bobby D!!!

  9. 1notredamefan - Oct 17, 2011 at 8:12 PM

    First off: I’m going to make a plea for LOUDNESS! I have been reading a lot lately about the crowd at OUR stadium and OUR fans and OUR ushers, I have been hearing that pretty much WE SUCK in the LOUD department! WHY?? The greatest team in the history of college football and we can’t be the greatest fans? Have we gotten complacent to the fact of our lore? Have we gotten feebly old over the history of OUR dominance and downfall? WHY? WE ARE NOTRE DAME! Nobody can take these facts away! WE are the richest in tradition yet We can’t Cheer for ole ND louder than the rest? I bet we can and I bet we want to so why not? I wish I could be there to help but if ya listen anywere in New Martinsville, WV you’ll be sure to hear me!!!!! My neighbors just love Saturdays! 😉 LET’S GET THAT PENALTY AGAIN!

    2nd: Defense… I think the 49 sec mark says it all! DOMINATE!! The BCS is calling our name……..can ya hear it?

    • msmmh - Oct 18, 2011 at 8:28 AM

      Nice to see another true Irish fan in the Ohio valley, I thought I was the only one. A South Bend native by birth, now transplanted in the Rayland Ohio area (just up the river from you).

      Go Irish, Beat USC

      • 1notredamefan - Oct 18, 2011 at 9:25 PM

        Interesting, I grew up in Smithfield, OH! How long ya lived there?

      • 1notredamefan - Oct 18, 2011 at 9:26 PM

        also went to Buckeye local so I’m sure your familiar?

      • msmmh - Oct 19, 2011 at 6:17 PM

        #1 fan,
        Been here a few years, my wife is from Rayland. I met her years ago in the military and she followed me all over the world. Now its my time to pay her back. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind it here, but I miss Indiana.

        ND will always have a special place in my heart. You see ND football was the glue for me and my dad. He passed away the day after ND beat the Convicts last year, the first game we watched together since I was a kid.

        BTW, Buckeye Local is having a good year so far. They lost a tough one to StC last week. Now if you want to see a Pro high school team then you need to check out Big Red in Steubenville, those guys are incredible.

  10. papadec - Oct 17, 2011 at 11:37 PM

    To 1notredamefan – ND should have you there making the music selections to be pumped into the stadium during commercial breaks. GO IRISH !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • 1notredamefan - Oct 18, 2011 at 6:17 AM

      lol… thanks papa but can’t take credit for the videos, I’ve found those via other Irish sites and You Tube! I’d love to be there regardless in whatever aspect necessary!!! GO IRISH!!!

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