Armstead Standing Tall at the Top

Arik Armstead

Arik Armstead was shocked when told would rank him as the top player in the Class of 2012.

Arik Armstead was shocked when told would rank him as the top player in the Class of 2012.

"That's a great honor. I appreciate it, but with the rankings and everything, I just got to keep working hard and keep getting better to hold that spot."

But the bigger surprise might be reserved for every recruiting analyst, coach and fan that has the Elk Grove (Calif.) Pleasant Grove behemoth playing on the offensive line in college and beyond.

"I'm playing defense in college," an adamant Armstead said Sunday at the Nike Camp at USC. "People can rank me where they want to rank me, but I'm playing defense in college."

Armstead did not participate in the camp because of an AAU basketball game with Compton Magic, where he plays alongside elite talents, center Isaiah Austin and guard Gabe York.

"They got too many dudes," Armstead said laughing.

It is Armstead's talents on the court that have so many projecting him to offensive tackle, with nimble footwork for a 6-foot-8, nearly 300-pound frame.

But he spent Saturday at USC, where he verbally committed last June, alongside the defensive coaches and players.

"They were working really hard," he said. "I went to the defensive meetings with them and got to watch film and everything with them. That was good."

Armstead has plenty of perspective when it comes to the Trojans, with older brother Armond entering his senior season as a defensive end.

He also stays in constant contact with the USC staff.

"I talk to them a lot, they come to my school a lot. Coach Clay (Helton) is my main recruiter and I talk to Coach O (Ed Orgeron) a lot and everybody a lot. I'm always down here," Armstead said.

While still firmly committed to USC, Armstead does plan to make unofficial visits that correspond with his summer basketball schedule. He identified Arkansas and Notre Dame as potential stops.

"Since the school offered me and showed interest in me, I can't ignore them. I'll show interest back," he said.

Armstead will also take official visits later this year.

A potential two-sport star at the next level, Armstead credited his father, Guss, a renowned basketball trainer, for developing the desire to improve.

"It really comes from my dad," Arik said. "He doesn't let us slack off or anything like that. I work out six, seven days a week, sometimes two times a day, really getting it in with him on the court and football workouts. It's really due to him. He instilled the work ethic in us."

Arik Armstead is's top player in the Class of 2012.

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