With a dominating performance in front of a nationally-televised audience, two-way lineman Arik Armstead (Elk Grove, Calif./Pleasant Grove) showed why he's considered among the nation's top players. The No. 15 overall player in the 2012 class also showed why the debate about what side of the ball he'll play in college won't be ending any time soon.
It was a relatively easy win for Pleasant Grove as it took out area rival Elk Grove (Calif.) Monterey Trail, 35-6. As always, Armstead started played playing left tackle and defensive end, although defensively, he was moved all around the line to try and take advantage of the offense Monterey Trail was playing.
"They run a veer offense and don't ever pass," Armstead said. "They run about 95 percent of the time and never really ran my way. This was the fifth time I've played against them and it has always been the same, not a lot of opportunities to make plays. So I moved inside a few times because they were running a dive play up the middle a lot but I knew going in, this wouldn't be my game to shine stat wise and I'm fine with that. I just want to win."
Where Armstead did shine was on the offensive line. Not only did the big lineman physically manhandle the player in front of him on just about every play, he showed his incredible athleticism for a 6-foot-7 tackle getting down the field and flattening linebackers and safeties. It's that package of size and mobility that has just about everyone, including his own high school coach, saying Armstead's best college position and maximum upside is on the offensive line.
Just don't tell that to Armstead, who frankly is getting a little tired of hearing it.
"I don't know how many times I have to say it but my heart is set on the defensive line and that's where I'll be playing in college," Armstead said. "My passion is on defense and always has been. USC's defensive line coach Ed Orgeron is a pretty good coach and knows what he's doing. He wants me for defense and thinks I'll have a chance to come in and play right away. If he thinks I can play defense, that's good enough for me."
It's not that Armstead can't be a very solid defensive end at the next level, no one is saying that. The feeling is simply he's more suited to play on the other side of the ball.
"Honestly, I get that and take it as a compliment," Armstead said. "People feel I can be a first-round draft pick some day as an offensive tackle. I do take it as motivation though that people don't feel I could do the same on defense. When my brother (Armond) was coming out of high school and signed with USC, everyone said the same thing about him.
"He wanted to play defense but everyone rated him as an offensive lineman and said he would get moved to offense the second he got to USC. People were saying he was lied to by the coaches and they just told him what he wanted to hear, but guess what. He stayed on defense and he has a great chance to be a first-round draft pick next year. That motivates me even more to follow that same path and I'm excited to show everyone what I can do at that next level."
Armstead will definitely have a full plate when he gets to college as not only will he playing football, but hoops as well.
"Basketball is actually my first love," Armstead said. "My dad is a basketball trainer so I've been playing that sport since birth. I just really got in to football in the eighth grade because I was always too big to play when I was little unless I played two years up and that wasn't much fun.
"The USC basketball coaches actually recruited me as hard as the football staff and they expect me to come in and make an immediate impact. I'm going to be graduating early, on Dec. 19, so I won't be able to play basketball this season at Pleasant Grove but I'll be working out with the USC team as soon as I get on campus, even though I won't be eligible to play until the following year."
In the meantime, Armstead still has hopes of a state title in football, official visits to take and figuring out what postseason All-American game to play in.
"I'm going to be busy for sure," Armstead said. "We won a section title last year and if we run the table, I think we'll have a good chance to play for a state tile. I don't have any individual goals, just team goals and winning state is my mindset.
"I still want to take some official visits and I'm looking at Arkansas, Cal, Arizona, Alabama, Notre Dame and USC of course, plus Nevada for basketball. I also need to figure out if I'm playing in the Army or Under Armour All-America game and I'm sure I'll start thinking more about that mid-way through the season. After that game, I'll be graduating and then it's off to college and hopefully I'll go out with a bang."
Bishop Gorman impressive in defeat
After an impressive opening season win over Scottsdale (Ariz.) Chaparral two weeks ago, the state's top ranked team, Las Vegas (Nev.) Bishop Gorman was at it again last weekend taking on nationally-ranked Seffner (Fla.) Armwood on ESPN2.
The Gaels valiant comeback fell just short as a game-tying 40-yard field goal with no time on the clock was wide left and Armwood, ranked No. 5 in the Powerade Fab 50, held on for an exciting 20-17 win. Despite the loss, Bishop Gorman didn't drop a spot from its No. 11 ranking in the Fab 50 and showed it's definitely a national power.
"We never quit," Gaels coach Tony Sanchez said following the game. "We were down 20-3 with five minutes left and still expected to win. Our players are crushed right now because we expected to win. Maybe no one else expected us to be able to compete with a Florida powerhouse but we fully expected to play well and I'm very proud of our kids."
After rushing for 303 yards and six touchdowns against Chaparral, Gaels running back Shaquille Powell had it much tougher against a very good Armwood defense. He finished with 83 hard-earned, yards and one touchdown but still showed he's among the top backs in Nevada.
"We played our hearts out," Powell said. "We have a young team but competed hard and you really can't ask much more than that."
The Gaels will have one more big cross-sectional matchup against Anaheim (Calif.) Servite, ranked No. 17 in the Fab 50, in a game that will also be televised on ESPN.
Bruce, Goforth impress in scrimmage
Two teams expected to be very strong this fall, Bellflower (Calif.) St. John Bosco and Long Beach Poly (Calif.) scrimmaged one another this past weekend. The two best players on the field might have been a pair of two-way standouts, Bosco's Dalis Bruce and Poly's Randall Goforth.
Bruce transferred to Bosco after playing for Monte Vista (Calif.) Danville the last two seasons. The first time he touched the ball, Bruce returned a punt 75 yards for a touchdown. He added three catches for 45 yards and another score at receiver and had four tackles and one interception on defense.
Oregon State and Colorado are the two BCS offers for Bruce but his recruitment should soar with an expected big season for the Braves this fall.
Goforth, an Arizona State commit, has had a big summer earning WR MVP at the USC Nike camp, but it was on defense where he really shined against the Braves.
"We matched him up against Bryce Treggs the whole scrimmage and he completely shut him down," Jackrabbits coach Doc Moye said. "Treggs is a great player but so is Randall and he's going to have a big year for us. He's an incredible athlete who can play receiver or corner but I think corner is where he could have the biggest impact and where I think ASU wants him."
Favreau is sleeper to watch
There's a handful of uncommitted quarterbacks in the Golden State who could see their stock rise with a strong senior season and Chase Favreau (Huntington Beach, Calif./Edison) is definitely in that category.
Favreau is a strong-armed lefty who impressed at the USC Nike camp last summer and had a solid junior season for the Chargers last year throwing for 1,372 yards and 10 touchdowns.
The signal-caller kicked off his season on a high note this past weekend when the Chargers traveled to the Islands and beat up on Wailuku (Hawaii) Baldwin 48-10. Favreau threw for 227 yards and four touchdowns and rushed for another score, despite sitting out almost the entire second half.
Another Charger player to watch closely this fall is standout receiver Sedric Hill. He transferred from Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei, where he was a two-year starter for the Monarchs. Hill caught three balls for 103 yards and a touchdown in the win and should be among the top pass-catchers in Orange County this coming season.
Game to watch
Compton (Calif.) Dominguez vs. Encino (Calif.) Crespi
There are some great matchups this coming weekend but there won't be more Division I talent anywhere in the Southland than at Dominguez high school on Friday.
The Dons already have six players with BCS scholarship offers and could have as many as 10 players sign letters of intent next February.
Defensive backs Brandon Beaver and Alphonso Marsh have offers from most of the Pac-12, offensive lineman Lacy Westbrook is one of the premier players in the region and fellow lineman Dejon Allen has already committed to Arizona State. Throw in defensive end Damion Turpin, who's close to double digit offers, linebacker Lavell Sanders and sleeper linebacker William Johnson and the Dons are definitely loaded.
Although they don't have as many FBS prospects as the Dons, the Celts will have the most heavily recruited player on the field in offensive lineman Jordan Simmons. He has close to 50 scholarships on the table and is easily among the most dominant linemen in the nation.
Wideout Chris Harper could also explode this season after a great spring/summer. Colorado is the lone BCS offer at this time but the Celts coaches think Harper is an even better prospect than former standout receiver Devin Lucien, who blew up last season before signing with UCLA over offers from most of the Pac-10, plus Miami and Nebraska.
Another player to watch from Crespi is standout junior safety Tyler Foreman. He has a college body right now, great athleticism and should be among the most heavily recruited defensive backs in the state next year.