2013 Pac 12 Breakout Player to Watch: Arik Armstead, Oregon Ducks
The Oregon Ducks have built up a reputation as one of the fastest and most explosive offenses in college football. With another offensive coach taking the helm in 2013, that isn’t likely to change, but that doesn’t mean the Ducks can’t produce elite defensive talent. Last season, Dion Jordan proved that by working his way into a top-five NFL Draft pick. This season, look for defensive tackle Arik Armstead to make a similar splash.
Armstead is a massive presence in the middle of Oregon’s defense at 6-foot-8 and 280 pounds. During his freshman season in 2012, he made a limited impact recording just 26 tackles, including two tackles for loss and half a sack. He is continuing to adjust to the defensive side of the ball, however, after being heavily recruited as an elite offensive tackle prospect. As he continues to grow and learn, his confidence and ability will only get better and Mark Helfrich thinks he has what it takes to be a star.
“He’s a guy who doesn’t have any idea how good he can be. He’s so technically sound. The NFL will have guys fighting for him. They’ll want him as an offensive tackle. They’ll want him as a defensive tackle.”
During his sophomore season, he’ll be leaned on more as the anchor for an experienced defensive line that should provide excellent pressure up front. As Armstead builds on his strength and aggressiveness up the middle, Oregon will have to rely less and less on blitz packages to generate a pass rush and opposing quarterbacks will not have a comfortable pocket to step up into.
There is no questioning the huge potential Armstead has as an interior defensive lineman. The only question is when he capitalizes on that potential and becomes an unstoppable force in the Pac 12. Will he put it all together for a breakout season in 2013?