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Are the Irish courting two Armsteads?

Jan 4, 2012, 10:12 PM EDT

Armond Amstead

By now, most Irish fans that have been reading this blog are familiar with Arik Armstead, the highly touted two-sports athlete that’s been recruited by both Brian Kelly and Mike Brey. Armstead is practicing right now at the US Army All-American bowl, where the 6-foot-8, 280-pound defensive lineman and power forward is still mulling through his recruiting options, with the Irish in the thick of it with schools like Cal and Oregon. Armstead has been tackling extra school work so he has the option to early enroll, and plans to do so for the spring semester.

In a bizarre twist of fate, the Irish could be getting two Armsteads for the price of one, with Arik’s older brother Armond Armstead also reportedly looking at Notre Dame as well.

The Orange Country Register reports that Armond, a graduating senior at USC who sat out last season with a medical condition after the Trojans’ medical staff refused to clear him for participation, is looking to transfer without penalty and play out his final season of eligibility in 2012. And Notre Dame is one of three possible destinations.

Although he hasn’t ruled out returning to USC next season, defensive lineman Armond Armstead is strongly considering transferring after the school wouldn’t clear him to play in 2011.

“Nothing’s set in stone, but I’m going to start taking visits and checking some other schools out,” Armstead said by phone Tuesday night. “I’m not 100 percent sure what’s going to happen.”

Armstead, a 6-foot-5, 290-pound senior from Elk Grove, has three options to choose from: Return to USC, transfer or enter the 2012 NFL draft. Based on conversations with him and his father, transferring seems like the most likely outcome, returning to USC the least. Armstead listed Notre Dame, Auburn and Arkansas as three possible destinations.

After starting all 12 games in 2010, Armstead was hospitalized in March ’11 because of an undisclosed medical condition. Despite passing numerous tests and being well enough to work out with the team, Armstead never gained medical clearance from USC’s doctors and redshirted.

The school’s reluctance to clear Armstead was a source of frustration for him and his family and led his brother, top-rated two-way lineman Arik Armstead, to decommit from USC.

“We haven’t been real happy with the process and some of the procedures about how everything was handled,” said Guss Armstead, Armond and Arik’s father. “Because of that, it may be time for him (Armond) to move on.”

Neither Guss nor Armond Armstead would say whether USC has cleared Armond to play in 2012. But the uncertainty of that situation clearly is a deterrent.

Scholarship numbers are tight for the Irish, but I’d highly doubt Brian Kelly would turn down a player of Armond’s stature, especially with the youth — however promising it is — along the defensive line. Of course, if bringing in Armond would help Notre Dame sign Arik, expect the Irish to sign on for that combo deal as well.

What remains to be determined is the elder Armstead’s scholarship release. There is a murky line that’s drawn (see the recent case with Phil Martelli and Todd O’Brien) and in all likelihood, USC will need to approve the schools that Armond can transfer to, meaning a marriage between a former Trojan and the Irish is a tough one to envision.

Still, if the landing spot of Arik has been a mystery to the reporters that cover recruiting, the fact that Armond isn’t reportedly considering Cal is an optimistic sign for Notre Dame’s staff, who have doggedly pursued Arik, even when the odds looked long to even get him out of California.

Decisions will be coming soon for both Armstead brothers, with Armond having a hearing scheduled at USC that’ll determine his football playing future and Arik deciding whether or not to take a recruiting visit before he enrolls somewhere next semester.

It was a long shot of long shots to start, but there’s a legitimate chance that both Armstead brothers could be on campus next semester at Notre Dame, a welcome sight to Irish followers, who get the added bonus of putting a stick in the eye of Trojan fans.

  1. bernhtp - Jan 4, 2012 at 10:58 PM

    Wow, that would be a catch!

    However, I’ve never understood the medical clearance issue. Are they accusing USC of being too conservative, or are they alleging some other motivation?

    • nudeman - Jan 5, 2012 at 10:07 AM

      I’ve been vocal saying the younger Armstead would be a great recruiting win. Not so sure now.
      This sounds like a pain in the ass waiting to happen.

      First, I assume USC was being careful with the kid’s health. I don’t ascribe humane motives there; more likely it was for reasons of liability concerns. Either way, they were being careful with the kid, and that’s a BAD thing?

      Second, what kind of guy attends and plays for USC for 4 years, then would transfer to ND? Or vice versa? Sounds unlikely and he’s probably using ND.

      Third, the younger kid first makes it a condition of attending a school that he also be allowed to play basketball. Now it sounds like he and his brother are a package deal. What next? A coaching job for Daddy?

      Go f^&*^ yourself. And go somewhere else for school.

      • bernhtp - Jan 5, 2012 at 10:59 AM

        You make good points. I would also add that it is extremely challenging – academically, physically and psychologically – to play both football and basketball, especially at Notre Dame. I haven’t seen evidence that he is up to this challenge, but I have very limited information.

        The older brother’s situation still confuses me per my original question. I don’t understand the animosity of the family if this were just a situation where USC was being understandably conservative with the kid’s health. Even if they disagreed, I wouldn’t expect the apparently bad feelings. There seems more to it than just this, and I would love to get an informed perspective.

        We all want to get highly-talented student-athletes, but we don’t need enrollees with attitude and a sense of entitlement. That simply is not the Notre Dame way. We all cringed when Clausen first landed to make his announcement, replete with fur coat and limo. Thankfully, Jimmy caught on.

      • oldestguard - Jan 5, 2012 at 12:45 PM

        N-Man If you ever went through a recruiting process with many high-powered schools involved, you would know this small amount of data Keith supplied above, is completely insufficient to ever post an ” F-yrself ” type of statement about a young man and his family.

        Speculate all you want, but admit you have almost no hard data on this kid or what is actually being said and done. In your limited capacity, you look rather foolish taking such a derogatory stance.

        Even for you, this level of sensationalism is, at best, awkward.

      • nudeman - Jan 5, 2012 at 1:57 PM

        With the greatest respect possible, your opinion of my comment here is of little consequence to me.

        In my opinion, the kid sounds like a pain in the ass.
        It’s impossible to play 2 D-I varsity sports and keep up with the academics at a place like ND for more than maybe a token year.

        You’re right: we ALL have limited info, including YOU.

        So it’s just my opinion he’s using ND. Therefore I retain the right to tell him to F himself.

      • bernhtp - Jan 5, 2012 at 2:47 PM

        re: “It’s impossible to play 2 D-I varsity sports and keep up with the academics at a place like ND for more than maybe a token year”

        You’re wrong about this. Several notable football players also played baseball, e.g., Jeff Samardzija and Golden Tate. Rick Slager was starting ND quarterback and #1 on the tennis team when I played tennis. However, basketball is a bit different because of the overlapping seasons and higher time/physical demands of basketball.

        My point was that not only is the football-basketball combo very difficult, but it takes a very special student athlete to do both.

      • nudeman - Jan 5, 2012 at 3:45 PM

        You are quite correct. It can and has been done.
        But I’d perhaps add this clarifier: Basketball and football are a VERY tough combination, based on the schedules (as you noted) and the physical demands of these two sports.

        I would challenge anyone here to name someone who’s played both those sports at ND for 4 years with any level of success. In the 70s there was a guy named Willie Townsend who played both at ND, but I don’t think he played b-ball 4 years.

        Charlie Ward played both at a high level, but I don’t think the academic demands of Florida are in the same league as ND.

        It CAN be done. But there is a reason it is NOT done very often. Armstead is being unrealistic.

      • domer77blowsgoats - Jan 5, 2012 at 5:24 PM

        I can’t believe I still waste my time reading such useless dibble – but hey let’s waste some more on a response

        Pube – what is really your deal man? You berate people for using foul language then go ahead and let the f-bomb rip?

        Who are you to talk about a 18 year old kid like this? Doesn’t everyone use Notre Dame to some extent? I sure didn’t go there because of its piss poor reputation – having ND on a resume opens doors that very few other institutions can.

        Do us all a favor, head to the mill, wear some loose clothing, and stand a little too close to the grinder…

      • papadec - Jan 6, 2012 at 2:35 AM

        Well Nude – this is one of those times I have to agree with you. I get the feeling the Armstead family is using ND to leverage usc into playing him – to increase his NFL draft status. I would be opposed to ND taking Armond, especially if it’s a package deal. There is nothing to say that Arik would stay @ ND after Armond departed. I predict they both end up @ usc next season. I would rather ND signed Josh Garnett. Josh looks like a RKG that would be a great fit @ ND.

      • paiten34 - Jan 7, 2012 at 7:15 PM

        I’m sure you’ve heard of J. Peppers who played basketball and football at North Carolina. Arik is a great athlete who is big and athletic. From what i have seen of him and his play he can play both sports if he wants. The seasons only over lap for 4-6 weeks. As for his big USC brother he is also a very good d line man. As for the medical reason he is being held out for it’s not serious enough to hold him out for as long as USC has. He’s healthy and has been cleared by a dr who doesn’t work for USC. However how it works in sports today the teams dr has to clear you before you can play. That is why he wants out of USC and Arik has de-committed. Oh and by the way no one has ever said the brothers are a packaged deal. Armmond might end up at Arburn and Arik might end up at Oregon. I think ND going after Arik will help them get is brother if eveything works that way.

    • 808raiderinparadise - Jan 5, 2012 at 1:19 PM

      It is mind-numbing to me that everyone is so enthusiastic about the Irish.

      Last year was a terrible dissapointment.

      ND has top recruits every year.

      I’d rather have top 10 finishes.

      • paiten34 - Jan 7, 2012 at 7:21 PM

        Turnovers!!!!! They can’t be counted on or perdicted. That is what cost ND nothing else. You take those turnovers off the board an ND finished 12-1.

  2. leftcoastirishfan - Jan 4, 2012 at 11:04 PM

    I say get em both, if only for the stick in the eye thing. We root for the Irish out here and for whoever SC plays

  3. patells07 - Jan 4, 2012 at 11:31 PM

    Hey Keith, due to USC’s sanctions Armond doesn’t need USC to approve his choice of school when it comes to his potential transfer.

    • borromini - Jan 5, 2012 at 1:24 AM

      That was only true for the two seasons (2010/2011) that USC was banned from playing in a bowl. That’s not the case for 2012.

      • papadec - Jan 5, 2012 at 3:19 AM

        Wouldn’t Armond be like Dayne Crist – in that he is graduating in 2012, but still has one year of eligibility remaining, that he can use anywhere?

      • borromini - Jan 5, 2012 at 12:05 PM

        Yes…but with Dayne, I believe ND chose not to restrict him in any way shape or form in regards to his transfer. He wasn’t granted this freedom of choice by rules regarding graduation. I don’t believe graduation has anything to do with whether the school can or can’t restrict your transfer choices…it’s eligibility.

        If eligibility is used up at a school for a particular sport…you can transfer without restrictions to another school to play a different sport for a year like Greg Paulus did when he finished basketball at Duke and played one year of football at Syracuse.

        Armond is still eligible to play football at USC so I believe they still have a say on his transfer.

      • irishmeghan - Jan 5, 2012 at 5:50 PM

        For players who have already graduated and still have elgibility remaining all they have to do is enroll in a grad program that the school they attended didn’t have and they can go where ever they want (minus the SEC) regardless of if they get a release or not.

  4. scott24105 - Jan 5, 2012 at 8:32 AM

    No, USC is still on probation for another 3 years so they lose the right to block his transfer. This has already been confirmed

  5. mattnef - Jan 5, 2012 at 9:13 AM

    Keith – If you have the chance a piece on the scholarship situation would be great. You mentioned in this article that the numbers are tight, with the Irish still having a chance with a number of 5-star recruits. Where do the numbers stand now? What 5th year players will be affected as 2012 recruits start to commit? And I have always been curious about how scholarships work on a year to year basis. Could a scholarship be pulled from an underperforming Junior to make way for a promising incoming Freshman?

  6. Celsior - Jan 5, 2012 at 12:42 PM

    Arik reminds me a little of Julius Peppers, who also played basketball for Matt Doherty at UNC.

    • oldestguard - Jan 5, 2012 at 12:49 PM

      I’ll trust that Kelly knows what he is after and what will work with regards to this young very talented guy.

      It’s shaping up nicely here again at the end of this recruiting cycle…keep the tidbits coming, Keith !

  7. kmprocol - Jan 5, 2012 at 1:56 PM

    We should not be courting the older brother for 2 reasons: (1) he has already graduated with his degree; and (2) he has some unspecified medical issue that caused the SC staff to refuse to give him the OK to play. If he came to ND, it would be for the sole purpose of playing football, and whatever grad program he would enroll in for one semester would just be a fig leaf cover to satisfy NCAA requirements. Our players are supposed to be student athletes. I don’t begrudge this guy the right to try to use his remaining year of eligibility to boost his NFL aspirations (assuming his health is OK),as Crist is doing. Just do it somewhere else. As to the medical problem, unless there is indisputable proof that it is a non issue (which is unlikely, since SC, which wants the younger Armstead, would not let him play), it would be unconscionable to take a chance on a young man’s health just to get a shot at landing his younger brother. I hope I’m not naive in believing that we are not a football factory. Let Arik Armstead choose ND because he thinks it’s the best place for him, not as a package deal with his brother.

    • cameronemclaughlin - Jan 5, 2012 at 5:19 PM

      While Notre Dame as a whole is not a football factory, the program is nonetheless a such a factory. Yes, our factory graduates more players than most programs in the country, but it would be naive to forget that a great number of the players on our team would fail to gain admittance to the university if not for their football ability and Notre Dame’s willingness to value that ability over the academic potential of other, non-athlete, applicants.

      That said, there is nothing wrong with valuing athletic ability. Universities, and people, are much more than their scholarship. Universities are hubs of culture, and thus individuals from diverse backgrounds are valued members of the community. Universities are the capitals of amateur athletics, and thus athletes are valued members.

    • irishmeghan - Jan 5, 2012 at 5:26 PM

      Almost every 5th year senior who returns to ND is doing just what Armond would be doing. Heck even great athletes who were awesome undergrad students have had pretty pointless 5th years just so they could play one more season of football. I’ve known several of them and their academic course load was laughable at best.

    • paiten34 - Jan 7, 2012 at 7:33 PM

      ND wants Armond because he brings experience to a very young d line. Plus it is Armond who is considering ND.

  8. don74 - Jan 5, 2012 at 7:23 PM

    Don’t know if this is a good thing or not. My take on this, should it play out as a 2 fer, is the administration has decided winning is more important than than resting on laurels. Not too long ago the idea of a transfer FB player was not on the radar. Weis took Bobby Burger but he transferred to ND, walked on the team and received a scholly his senior year. The idea we would take a hired gun would not have been considered in the last 15 years.

    I don’t care if 1, 2 or 6 Armsteads come to town. What’s important to me is the administration’s stance. My premise all along has been when the powers that be decide to make it happen, it will happen.

    On another note the article in the SBTrib about the wavering of Decker (that too has past) had an interesting aside. Warriner left Decker a voicemail saying he was leaving ND at the request of Martin. I guess the new OC has a vision and Warriner doesn’t fill it. Or it is part of Kelly’s code. Last year BK said if anyone on his staff was looking outside at an upgrade (position ot coordinator or coordinator to head) he would always be supportive but if anyone was looking ot lateral they would be gone. Maybe he waited till after the Bowl and gave them their walking papers.

    Mr Nude, little rough this AM…….

    • don74 - Jan 5, 2012 at 7:39 PM

      My mistake, Decker received a vmail from Hinton saying he was leaving at Martin’s request.

    • nudeman - Jan 5, 2012 at 8:28 PM

      Probably so (a little rough)

      But I have seen this Armstead recruitment turn into something of a circus and it just smells funny to me.

      I’m going to USC
      Wait, I’m NOT going to USC
      I want to play basketball too
      I want to go where my brother, the USC grad is going to transfer.

      Nothing smells more than a 4 year USC player and soon to be alum supposedly saying he’d consider ND.
      Does anybody really believe that?

      It just seems like they’re using ND. Someone said “everybody uses everybody”. or something like that.
      I don’t see it that way at all.

      Most of these kids, especially the really good ones are probably so flattered by the attention, they don’t want to let anyone down and want to please everyone. But a guy who’s already been at USC for 4 years and played 3? I just don’t buy that he or his brother are serious about ND.

      But know what? Hope I’m dead wrong.

      • jerseyshorendfan1 - Jan 5, 2012 at 8:51 PM

        He could be a wealth of information for us on our most important rival and that’s why I doubt Kiffen could ever see his way clear to allow this transfer. If Armond does come over to the good side, he’s virtually assuring himself of becoming the AFLAC trivia question from the broadcast booth during this match-up. Mayock: “Tom, there’s been one player in the history of this storied rivalry who has seen playing time on both squads, any idea who that is? The answer after this word from our friends at AFLAC.”

      • Jennifer - Jan 6, 2012 at 9:22 AM

        re: Last two paragraphs: I believe you’re spot-on, and I, (too), hope you’re dead wrong.

      • paiten34 - Jan 7, 2012 at 10:18 PM

        Well if USC was treating Armond with respect like a started should be none of this would happen. However trust me on this once you feel betrayed by a school you loved and respected you want to get them back.

        You transfer to your most hated rival. Then you help that team beat your old team. Where i coach we get more transfers from schools that are rivals than all other schools combined.

  9. barneysbullet - Jan 5, 2012 at 8:05 PM

    Come on people – lets admit that nude does have a point…maybe a bit blunt, but a point nevertheless. Who’s to say these bros don’t have a case of Randy Moss, Albert Haynesworth, or ____________ in the making?

    Jus sayin ya’ll. – and I remain neutral 😉

    • nudeman - Jan 6, 2012 at 10:14 AM

      Well thank you
      I probably should have left off the F Bomb, I admit

      But having said that, I’d love to get the younger kid; have no interest in the elder kid
      If that blows up the recruitment of the younger kid, so be it; he’s not the only talented D Line guy ND is chasing

      Bit I’ll say it again: I don’t think they’re serious about ND

      • papadec - Jan 7, 2012 at 7:24 PM

        nude – the F Bomb has its time & place – I actually think it was appropriate where you used it – this time.

      • nudeman - Jan 7, 2012 at 8:39 PM

        Thank you Sir

  10. jerseyshorendfan1 - Jan 5, 2012 at 8:39 PM

    Armstead the elder says he is interested in ND, Auburn and Arkansas. Seems like we’d be in good shape because I remember reading somewhere that that the SEC has a conference-wide agreement to prohibit 5th year seniors from outside the SEC from transferring in. Also read where he is meeting with USC officials on 1/9/12 to see if they will release him and free him up to transfer. This might not bode well, however, as I could not see Kiffen allowing him to transfer to their oldest rival. With respect to the health issue, I have read speculation about everything from a heart condition to a virus ( including the HIV which might explain all the secrecy) so who knows how this will play out. Rivals had him ranked coming in to college as the #3 DT in the nation and #42 out of their top 100 and he started all games in 2010 for the University of Systemic Cheating so he’d be a great addition but, as don74 points out above, one which would break a lot of unwritten rules at ND. It will be another interesting story of another wacky recruiting season as we watch this one play out.

  11. 1historian - Jan 5, 2012 at 10:24 PM

    Jerseyshorendfan1 – Your 8:39. Good point, especially “he’d be a great addition, but, as don74 points out above, one which would break a lot of unwritten rules at ND.” That to me is the most important point.

    This whole thing is a little fishy – we don’t need this package. If just the younger brother wants to come, fine. But is sounds as if their father is trying to pull some sort of a fast one and we don’t need that.

    • jerseyshorendfan1 - Jan 5, 2012 at 10:50 PM

      Agreed. This could be a very slippery slope. What would be next? The Admin “looking the other way” academically speaking, on a couple of recruits each year like Urban had allegedly bargained for? These are the important traditional aspects of the football program that we need to care about, not the turf/Jumbotron red herrings. These are the things that maintain the graduation rate and other important aspects of life for our student-athletes (note they are not called athlete-students).

  12. mcirish27 - Jan 6, 2012 at 12:33 AM

    Im confused about all these transfer rules and “guidelines”. For every rule, there seems to be an exception. Lest we forget that Jordan Prestwood transferred in from Florida State last summer. My entire Notre Dame-loving life I was POSITIVE that we did not allow transfers but Im definitely guilty of letting that slide because he had committed previously, decomitted and enrolled early at FSU only to realize that…well Im not really sure what, but I was damn glad he did. But to your question Jersey, already some “looking the other way” action taking place. I don’t like it, lets not get carried away with a questionable situation like this with the Armstead’s. Both are great talents but is this selling our soul territory?

    Next, there’s the question of this SEC transfer rule that does not allow post-grad year transfers, etc. Remember 2010 when Jeremiah Masoli transferred in from the penitentiary in Eugene to Ole Miss? That even got squashed by the NCAA then was appealed, and the transfer finally granted.

    So who’s got the answers? SEC rule or our own, are these rules or preferences and what’s taking it too far?

  13. dickasman - Jan 6, 2012 at 12:24 PM

    Hey guys did you catch the Dirty Underwearer Armor game?

    Loooved Ronald Darby…The kid can play. Very rangey He’s got long legs, he’s a strider! He looks like the real deal. He’ll be playing right away and help the team for sure. I think he can start at corner but eventually he could really be a great free safety! the ed reed type i was talking about.

    Boy every kid on there is either committed to or considering: Texas, Auburn, Alabama, LSU, OSU, Florida, Florida State, Miami, Texas, Texas, Texas, Alabama, LSU…

    Unreal. ND can’t even get the stupid white kids to commit anymore WTF ;-( Just goes to show you how far and long ND has to go before being considered elite.

  14. dickasman - Jan 6, 2012 at 12:27 PM

    oh, I also like that Brian Poole kid….Must Have!!! Cmon Burger King, Let’s go get the kid show me what you got! If we get Poole and Armstead on top of the class we already have, i’ll be happy.

  15. dickasman - Jan 6, 2012 at 1:45 PM


    I have no idea why to have that peewee arm of a QB Rees to toss him 3yd curl pattern passes I guess. Probably has to do more with the fact that he saw that Rudolph didn’t do crap in NFL this year.

    • dickasman - Jan 6, 2012 at 1:47 PM

      BTW ignore my sarcasm please. I love this kid. This is good.

      • oldestguard - Jan 6, 2012 at 2:00 PM

        Very nice !!,0,1910572.story

        Nice trend developing around the country of young men staying in school to get their 4th year in.

      • jerseyshorendfan1 - Jan 6, 2012 at 5:29 PM

        I love your sarcasm.

      • papadec - Jan 7, 2012 at 7:28 PM

        dick – this is probably your only post I have given a thumbs up. Is it possible you throw stuff out here just to get a rise out of the ND fans?

  16. irishdodger - Jan 7, 2012 at 6:26 PM

    Speaking of USC, Amir Carlisle has announced he will be transferring to ND. His dad is now the S&C coach @ Purdue & Amir wants to be close to family.

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